Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Meet results: The Great Experiment

Normally I stick to the science area of training/nutrion/physiology, but I did my second ever meet this past Sat and decided to write it up as a blog post to elicit some feedback and possibly provide some insight for those looking to do their first meet.

I was planning for it to be a bench only meet as I was doing a max deadlift at the TSC (tactical strength challenge) the Sat before. Yep, the bad part was it was 1 week after the TSC. I figured I could lie down on the bench so how bad could it be, right?

So after talking to Geoff Neupert (who I hired to do my program design) right after the TSC I decided to enter the deadlift part too to see if I could get another PR one week later and just tos ee how my tapering for the TSC went. The thought was that if I PR-ed again, I would know I need more rest/longer taper in the future. If I did not, the last plan we did was probably pretty close.

I arrricve at the meet this past Sat and weighed in at 207 lbs (last Sat I was at 203--hmmm). First up was the Squat and since I was not doing a squat, I hung out and watched. I was figuring the bench would be first, but it was noon before I was even warming up. I was in the second flight (group) for the bench and listed last in that flight; so plenty of time I thought.

Bench press time
I stared my warm ups and helped another guy with a spot and did my warm ups a little later than I wanted since the benches were pretty busy and I had to wander and find a lift off for my last 2 warm ups. Well I just finished my last warm up when the organizer poked his head in the warm up room and asked if there was a Mike Nelson in there. Yep, that was me. Well I was up on the bench now! Once they announce your name, you have 1 minute to make an attempt at the lift. So I ran out there, and the bar was loaded with the timer ticking down. I did not even have a partner/handler with me that day for a lift off, so luckily I knew a guy spotting and asked him for a lift off. He was awesome and told me "relax, you have plenty of time, just wait for the commands".

For those of you who have not seen a real live powerlifitng event, in the bench competition there are 3 commands. Once you get the lift off, you have to hold the bar at lock out until the "start" command is given, lower it to your chest and once the bar is motionless, the judge will say "press" and then you have to hold it again at lock out until the "rack" command is given. Any deviation from these commands and the lift is invalid. For this meet (USAPL) you have to keep your head, shoulders and butt on the bench at all times and feet FLAT on the floor too. I knew I called a super easy opening weight at 205 lbs so I was not worried about that part. I just did what he said and the lift went great and flew up, no problems.

The next attempt did not go as well. I lowered the bar and paused, but did not wait for the "press" command and they took the bar (you don't get to finish the lift). I just heard the crushing words of the judge say "take it" as the spotters grab the weight. Dang it!

Since I did not make the second lift and there are only 3 attempts, I could only tie my PR since I called 231 lbs on my second attempt. Once you call a weight, you have to lift it and you can not call a lower weight. This time I was determined to wait for the press command and not repeat my last mistake. Well, this time I paused after the lift off and started to lower the weight and realized mid lift that I did not wait for the "start" command. Crap. I was so focused on the pause at the bottom, I forgot about the start command. Double crap. Once again I heard the dreaded words "take it' uttered from the judge is a pissy voice. I felt cold and drained a I screwed up my last attempt.

So I went 1 for 3 on the bench. I was pissed off to no end and disappointed in myself at the same time, but I still had the deadlift left yet. Part of me just wanted to go home and call it day, but I tried to put it out of my mind and focus on the upcoming task.

Deadlift time
I timed the warm up much better this time. The downside was that I had to wear shoes and the last time I pulled in shoes was back in March as I normally only wear socks. Again, I called an opening weight that was easy and I could do on my worst day in the gym. I did 370 lbs and it came up fine, no problems. I only had 2 more attempts as even if you make all 3 you do NOT get a 4th attempt unless you are going for a state record. I did a 15 lb PR at 400 at the TSC last Sat, (click here for all the details) so I called 402.5 lbs since I felt if I did anything less I would not be happy. I wanted another PR or broke. I would rather miss 402 than make 390 again only to find out I spent myself in the process. So my second attempt was at 402.5 and I broke it a few inches off the ground and that was it. My final attempt (second at 402) was the same as the previous--no dice. Triple crap.

So I ended the day 2 for 6. Honestly I was pretty pissed off about the whole thing and I could list all sorts of reasons why like I did not have anyone else there to help spot, provide feedback; the timing was off, I barely finished a warm up before I started lifting, the judge on the third attempt was different and had a longer pause at the start, I did not use a belt on the deadlift, I had too much stress with class and everything else going on leading up to the meet, they turn the music down when you lift so you could hear a pin drop in there and I have so neurally chunked loud music into my lifting process that it felt odd, I was lifting raw so I had to wear wrestling singlet which makes it look like you are carrying grapes in the wrong place and walk out in front of 200 people, --blah blah blah.

The truth is ALL of them are just excuses and ALL of them have one common denominator--ME!

Here is what went good in the big picture
The TSC was my main goal and I hit 3 PRs in all 3 events, so I was very stoked!

I know my taper for the deadlift was pretty close and the ramping up of my CRF (cardio respiratory fitness) in the 2-3 weeks before the TSC worked awesome. I think there is an article in there about CRF and strength work at the the same time since they stress different resources in the body

I have the RKC coming up in mid Oct and I know I WILL passs that. So that is my focus coming up.

The Z Health is going great, as structurally I feel great. I just need to figure out how much of a drain it is on my CNS though.

Instead of lamenting the negatives, here are my solutions:

Program design--hire Geoff Nseupert again with additional feedback to add in to prep for future meets and get ready for the RKC first, then TSC in March 2008 while working on bench too.

Nutrition-hire Ryan Andrews again for nutrition work to keep me on point. My nutrition was good, but not up to 90% all the time where it needs to be at.

Add some muscle weight this winter as I am in the very light end of the 220 lb class.

Take the rest of this week off from lifting and only some short cardio work. My CNS is completely trashed. I have been sleeping 9+hours a night since Sat.

I took the weekend off nutrition wise during the TSC and after the meet this past Sat. I ate whatever I wanted for 2 days this past weekend too and went out to dinner with friends on Sat night. I made sure to order dessert too!

In the future I will not plan a meet 7 days after the TSC. The TSC took more out of me than I thought it would as my CNS was toasted and I was very sore in the hams, low back, biceps and mid back. Seems obvious now, but I have no idea how to taper for anything now with all the Z work since it is CNS intensive at times and throws a monkey wrench into a normal taper plan.

Maybe wakeboarding this past Wed for 3 sessions before the meet was not the best idea, but I had my two best sessions clearing wake to wake and the third session I got spanked hard a bunch of times. Oh well, it was tons of fun and I walked away without any injuries, just some mid back and glute soreness that cleared by Friday.

For the next meet, make sure my training partner is there to help me out and keep track of me. EVERY highly successful person at the meet had at min one other person there to help them along. Success leaves clues.

Add in audible command more than just a few times in bench training. Have my training partner vary the "start" and"rack" command from 1-4 seconds, vary the pause command for 1-2 seconds on all singles work.

Work on my "starting strength" from a pause on the chest.

Possible add more partial work in, as I get stuck about 1/3 off my chest

I see sumo DLs from a deficit in my future to hammer the glutes and hamstrings again, KB work once again too.

Work on a few singles without any music during the lift.

Keep working the "Getting Things Done" organizational system by David Allen to keep overall stress down to a low roar.

Hire a virtual assistant to off load as much as I can. All paperwork is completed on that, just waiting now.

Maybe add in some KB work in different movement planes from the bench and deadlift to affect my fascia.

From now until Dec 18 will be quite busy due to full time class load, TA for exercise phys, research proposal, working 24 hours a week, Z Health appnts, trying to have a life, etc, so training will have to be scaled back a little but I can fit in 1 hour each day which should be enough.

Why you should care?
You never know until you try. I knew the meet was going to be a big experiment and feedback is always good albeit painful at times.

I am open to any other ideas from all you smart people also, so bring them on. Hopefully others can learn from my experience also. I would highly advise everyone to get a goal, sign up for a meet or competition and go for it. I still believe you will accomplish much more that way!

Rock on
Mike N