Last Saturday, I did my first powerlifting comp (the BDFPA‘s Dean Mikosz Memorial). Quick version: a 97.5 squat, 60 bench, 150 deadlift for a 307.5kg total as a U70 unequipped lifter.
Although there were other female lifters on the entry list, the others didn’t show up. So I was the only female competing full power on the day (you never can tell who will turn up, I guess – apparently there were quite a few women at this qualifier last year).
The day was split into two flights, under 80-something-KGs and over 80-something-KGs. So I was in the first flight, with the lighter men.
First up was squats (it’s always squats, bench, deadlift). And as my opening weight was the lightest of the flight, I was the first lifter.
This was pretty nerve-wracking! I’ve never lifted in a competition setting – on a platform and facing out in to an audience. The rack was different to the style I use for training. And being the first lifter, I hadn’t had a chance to watch anybody lift before me.
That’s me in the warm up room – what an awesome old-school gym! My squat warm up had felt heavy, laborious and just not great at all. I don’t know if this was because it was earlier in the morning than I usually train, or because I didn’t warm up enough, or just due to nerves. No idea. But I wasn’t feeling great!
Anyway, little time to think about it. The comp started and I was announced as the first lifter.
Squat 1: 90kgs. Felt very heavy. But it went down, and back up again, and I got 3/3 whites (i.e. all of the 3 referees called it as a “good lift”).
Squat 2: 95kgs. Also felt very heavy. But again I got 3/3 whites although a couple of people in the audience told me I was only just deep enough.
Squat 3: 97.5kgs. I’ve done 100kgs in the gym, on more than one occasion, but I didn’t think it was happening today and I’d rather get another good lift than fail an over-ambitious one. After all, this is my first comp and just a qualifier. I only need to do as much as is needed to qualify. Felt very heavy, and was the slowest squat in the world on the way back up, but I fought for it and got it. 3/3 whites. Apparently it was deeper than my 95 and a better squat.
Felt very relieved that squats were over!
Had a bit of a break here whilst the second flight squatted. Ate some decent food (stayed true to my bro roots: rice and tuna out of a plastic tub 😉 )
Bench 1: I went with 60kgs for my opener, a weight I only recently got for 2 reps in the gym. Maybe I could have opened with less. But I had no expectations for bench, I’ve only really started training flat barbell bench in the last few months. It went down and then up again. I got 2/3 whites (1 ref gave me a red due to me moving a bit before the “start” command). 2 of 3 is enough for a good lift.
Bench 2: I tried 62.5kgs despite never getting it before in the gym. It got stuck partway up and I battled it for a bit until the ref told the spotters to take it. A bit disappointing but I’ve never done 62.5kgs before so never mind. 3 reds – failed lift.
Bench 3: I tried the 62.5kgs again but the exact same thing happened again. I think I just need to train bench more, and iron out some technical issues.
Another break here whilst the big fellas did their benching.
Deadlift time! Hooray! I love deadlifting, definitely my favourite lift by miles. I’d been waiting all day to deadlift.
Deadlift 1: 130kgs opener, very easy. I probably should have opened with more but wanted to feel confident.
Deadlift 2: 140kgs. This had been my PB in the gym for ages, in fact I only got 145kgs a couple of weeks ago and that felt a real struggle. This 140 went up FAST! The video (you can see it here) makes me laugh to see how fast it went up. You can hear someone in the background comment about how fast it was.
I decided to go for 150 for my third deadlift. I’ve never tried this weight before in training so it would be brand new territory and a PB if I got it. I really wanted to get a PB in my favourite lift as my final lift of the comp.
Deadlift 3: 150kg. I felt great walking up to the bar. I can’t really remember doing it, but it came up pretty fast, pretty smooth, no sticking points. It didn’t feel hard. Not easy, but comfortable. The video is here (you can see how pleased I am at the end).
My total was 307.5 which was more than enough to secure a place in the full power unequipped Nationals. They are just under 6 weeks away.
Squat was a bit disconcerting because I didn’t expect it to feel so hard and so uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel “right”. I don’t know if it’s technique, “attack”, confidence or something else I need to work on. Whatever it is, I will figure it out and work on it!
Bench was no more or less than I expected. I know there’s a lot more there once I get some more training sessions in the bank.
Deadlift was amazing and I’m buzzing! I also feel I have a lot more in the tank, I think I could have got 155 on the day (one of the spotters told me to do 145 for my second lift and 155 for my third, I wish I’d listened to him).
My goals for Nationals to be revealed, but are a “total” goal and a deadlift goal.
Over the next 5 weeks I’ll mainly be working on squat (weight, confidence, drive) and bench (technique, sticking point, a little extra weight).
I’ll leave it there before this gets far too long! If anyone from the BDFPA is reading, thank you for a very well organised, friendly, welcoming day. It was great fun and every single person I met was great. I’m a very happy new member of your Association 😀
Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.