By Hayden Atkinson on 1/20/2014 Back to Articles
My first powerlifting meet recap and future goals.
My first powerlifting meet is complete and it was a huge success! I hit all the goals I was aiming for and even got an extra 5 kg’s on my squat goal! I’ll go over the whole day’s events.
I woke up at 5:30 AM from a rough night’s sleep. I didn’t fall asleep until probably 2:30 AM, but thankfully I had taken a two hour nap earlier that day. I was having some pretty weird dreams too and as a result, I woke up three times in the middle of the night. Regardless, I wasn’t feeling tired, probably because I was so excited to get to the meet. I weighed in on my bathroom scale at 196.2 lbs and then had a bowl of cereal, since my weight class goes up to 205 and I had nothing to worry about. I left the house at 6:05 to and picked Naeem up at his house and we got to the venue (Rodd hotel on Capital Dr) at 6:30. We got our gear checked, got our Canadian Powerlifting Union Cards and weighed in a little after 7 AM. Oddly enough, I weighed in at 88.6 kilos (195.3 lbs), which makes me question my scale’s accuracy. After that we went to Sobeys and Naeem got himself a dagwood sandwich. I didn’t get anything because I already had some Gatorade bottles and I really don’t like to have much in my stomach when I’m lifting.
There were three flights of lifters in this meet, meaning three groups that lifted together taking their turns. I was in flight C, so I was able to watch flight A (the women’s flight) perform their squats. Afterwards I got changed into my singlet and started warming up while flight B was performing their lifts. I wish I had started warming up sooner because I really didn’t feel like I had much time to warmup. I was rushing between my warmup sets and I didn’t feel as strong as I normally do in the gym. I didn’t have much time to do my foam rolling and I didn’t have any time to stretch out with my resistance bands. By the time flight C was called up, I think I was the fifth or sixth lifter in my flight. I opened with 165 kg (363.8 lbs) and my legs literally felt like jelly the whole time walking up to the bar and getting under it. The squat itself felt a little slow, but FD was filming and I watched the clip after. It was fast and VERY deep. So deep that if I kept that up I could be sacrificing pounds on my next attempts. Now that the first lift was out of the way, I felt a lot more comfortable. I decided my second attempt would be 172.5 kg (380.3 lbs). This attempt felt better than the first one, even though it was a little slower. That can probably be attributed to losing my anxiety after the first lift. It was still very low, despite making a conscious effort to stay a little higher, but I still made the lift nicely. For my third attempt I made a bit of a risky move by going for 180 kg (396.8 lbs) because if I failed, I wouldn’t reach my goal of 175 kg (385.8 lbs), but I felt like I had it in me. My favourite pump-up song is the live version of Bulls on Parade, by Rage Against the Machine and of course I had that playing loudly on my headphones before the lift. Once the bar was ready, I walked up to it and started spinning it like I always do, but something just didn’t feel right. I looked down and my belt was unlatched! So I buckled it up and did my spinning thing again and got underneath it and unracked it. It didn’t feel as heavy as I thought it would, which gave me some confidence. I waited for the signal and dropped down and started coming back up, where I really slowed down after coming out of the hole. A fellow in the audience was shouting “HIPS! HIPS!” and I made note. I pushed my hips forward and the weight blasted up. I saw the clip of the squat afterwards and it was probably my lowest squat of all. I was actually worried after the lift that I was going to get red-lighted (when a judge doesn’t give you the lift) because of depth, but once again, it was very deep. I’m confident I could squat at least another 10 lbs if I straighten out how low I need to be in terms of depth. Regardless, I had just squatted over double my bodyweight and I was very happy! Overall, on Smolov I increased my squat by 57 lbs in ten weeks.
I learned my lesson from the squats and started warming up a little earlier for the bench press. The warmup rack we were using wasn’t set up very well. The plates kept hitting the safeties, which was a little frustrating, but it didn’t affect me too much. I opened with 102.5 kg (226.0 lbs), which was quite easy, so I decided to go straight for my goal of 107.5 kg (237.0 lbs). I had made a 235 lb bench PR just four days prior, so I was confident I would be able to get this one. If I didn’t make it on this attempt, I was damn sure I would get it the next time. The bench was actually quite grippy, much like the one I have in my garage. I got under the bar, got set up, took a deep breath, unracked it and waited for the “start” command. The weight really didn’t feel that heavy upon unracking it, which again, made me feel confident that I could make the lift. I lowered it down to my chest, waited for the press command and got up up with a bit of a struggle, but I had no doubt that it was getting up. Three white lights. For my third attempt, I decided to go for 110 kg (242.5 lbs). It didn’t matter to me whether I made this lift or not, since I had already hit my goal and I was very happy with it, this would just be icing on the cake. When I unracked the weight, once again it didn’t feel too heavy. When I tried to press it I got it about six inches off my chest, but I didn’t have enough speed to carry the weight through the triceps dominant portion of the lift and I didn’t make it. In the next few months I’ll be doing a lot more close-grip benching to strengthen that portion of the lift so I can hit some bigger numbers. Overall, on Smolov Jr. for 12 weeks, I increased my bench by 42 lbs, which I am VERY proud of.
Onto the final portion: Deadlifts. I started warming up as soon as flight B began lifting. I don’t like to do many sets or reps while warming up for deadlifts, but I did a couple extra since I hadn’t done a single deadlift in over five weeks. After the warmups, I was feeling pretty good. I opened with 202.5 kg (446.4 lbs) and it went up very quickly. My second attempt was 215 kg (474.0 lbs), which I had hit during my mock meet five weeks prior, which was a hard-earned max. This time though, it too went up pretty fast. I was feeling quite confident at this point so I went for my goal weight of 227.5 kg (501.5 lbs) and there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I was going to join the 500 lb deadlift club the next time I touched the bar. Once again, I had Bulls on Parade on full blast in my headphones. I swear, when I am determined to do something, I don’t give a shit about anything else, I had tunnel vision. When the announcer lady said “Bar is loaded for Hayden Atkinson” I said to myself “you’re god damn right it is” (lol). I walked up, did my pre-pull routine and tore the weight off the ground. I was so happy! The white lights came on and I got a bro-hug from Naeem (don’t give a shit about anything else mode was over at this point). That was the most rewarding moment I’ve ever had in any athletic pursuit and there will be many more to come. Im sure I could deadlift another 10 lbs based on the speed of that pull. On Smolov, my deadlift went up 41 lbs. Not bad for not training my deads for ten weeks! The meet video is below if you haven’t seen it already.
As a result, my total was 515 kg (1135.4 lbs). I was the only lifter in my class (93 kg, Junior) so I got a medal for first place, hehe. Regardless, I’m very proud of myself for hitting all of my goals and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve taken time to analyze my progress and make goals for my next meet in August and they are as follows.
Squat - 210 kg (463 lbs)
Bench Press - 127.5 kg (281.1 lbs)
Deadlift - 260 kg (573.2 lbs)
Under 93 kg (205 lbs) body weight (I hope to be around 200 lbs by then, a 5-ish lb gain)
I think these goals are ambitious but attainable. With over seven months to work with (31 weeks to be exact), great focus and the right programming, these numbers will be within my reach. Here is my programming plan between now and then that will get me there.
Smolov Base Mesocycle (4 weeks)
This is really three weeks with the final week being a max test and then a deload.
Sheiko CMS 1, 2 and 3 (15 weeks)
Smolov FULL (10 weeks)
If you do the math, this adds up to 29 weeks. This gives me a couple of weeks to place deloads if they are needed, most likely within the 15 week Sheiko period, as Smolov includes a deload by default. Smolov and Sheiko are known as Russian style training programs for their high volume and lifting frequencies. I think most of my training in my lifting career will come strictly from these two programs as the templates look very appealing to me. I’ve obviously ran Smolov once myself with great results and Naeem ran Sheiko leading up to this meet with great results as well. We have similar training preferences as we both prefer to use “full-body” training days and train each lift multiple times per week.
Considering where I was in June of 2013; squatting 225x5 coming back from a knee injury, I’ve come a long way with my lifting. Deciding to compete in powerlifting is one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself and I encourage anybody who is curious to try it out. I’m looking forward to a great year in the gym and on the platform and I couldn’t be more excited and optimistic for what is to come. I’d also like to announce that this will be my last blog, as I will be starting audio commentary on my YouTube videos, mostly for simplicity’s sake. I will consider doing blogs again leading up to my August meet, but for now I have other preoccupations that take up my time. Thank you all for making the effort to read my blogs. I’m not the most expressive person but it honestly means a lot to me to have your support and an interest in my progress. It literally would make my day every time somebody would tell me in person that they were reading my blog. I hope you enjoy the new audio-video format for now!
Thank you all very much,