Alongside my powerlifting team, I took part in the BDFPA All England Powerlifting & Single Lifts championship on Sunday. It was a fantastic opportunity, filled with nerves, adrenaline, grunt and a steep learning curve or two.
I aimed to do all three lifts — squat, bench press and deadlift — raw to the best of my ability, but by no means holding any expectation that I’d be much competition to my peers. Indeed I don’t remember any of the numbers that anyone other than my team-members hit, so it’s safe to say I wasn’t paying attention to that. This was my first powerlifting competition and I just wanted to learn.
This was a bit of a funny situation for me. Upon waking that morning, I checked my weight and I was 66 kg. I then went and had breakfast thinking nothing of it – mistake #1.
We arrived at the event only to have to weigh-in immediately. I head straight for it. I’m instructed as-necessary by one of the judges to do the necessaries (read: strip to my briefs) and pop on the scale.
It read 67.9 kg. Shit. I was already a weight class too high for my liking.
“You’ll have to take a run around the block” or words to that effect, the judge said. I went for a wee, took my watch and socks off, then headed back to the scale.
67.5 kg. Dead on. Phew!
Fast-forward an hour or so and the lifts start with Squat promptly at 1030. By now my newbie nerves are rattling my bones yet somehow I’m managing to hold it together quite well. Already a great experience.
I started with an easy squat for me — 110 kg — and it was a wise decision. I hit it just fine and was awarded three white lights.
Back round to me after rotating with plenty of equipped lifters and I go for my 125 kg – my current PB. Smashed it. First challenge: what do I go for next? 130 kg and most-likely hit it, or go for a bigger challenge with a 135 kg. The latter it was.
I missed it; spotters caught me and I got red-lighted. I remember the point of no-return: I just couldn’t squeeze it up any longer. That there is a decent learning curve, ’cause when your muscle has done what it can it’s up to your head to manage the rest of the lift, including not quitting.
With the first set of lifts over I joined the rest of my team to watch others lift and wait for the time to warm up for bench.
My warm-up for bench went well, so I upped my starting weight by 5 kilos. Another mistake. I went for 90 kg first and aimed — if it felt good — to go for a new PB of 100 kg if I could.
My first bench set comes up and the 90 kg goes up easily. So I set my next-attempt’s weight to 100 kg and sit down trying not to think about it. The time comes again and I’m gearing myself up for a lift. If I don’t hit this attempt I’ll have to hit the third, which potentially wastes a set.
No dice. Twice. I just couldn’t lock the bar out much past my chest. I think some decent tricep work is in order!
By now my total is 125 + 90: 215 kg. Not too impressive. So I ignore it.
This is by far my favourite lift because it’s easy. Plus, you get to whack a little more weight on the bar and it looks cool.
In the gym I hit 160 kg PB with confidence, but my teammates advised me to set your current PB for the second set/attempt and leave the third to the unknown.
I opened with my 3 RM: 145 kg. Piss-easy it was too.
What next? Taking the mistakes with bench into account, I played it safe and went for just below my deadlift PB: 155 kg. Couldn’t have been easier.
Now I had the opportunity to take another gamble at a new PB of 165 kg.
Last lift of the day. Crowd rearing me on, I waddle up and set my feet. Grab the bar with my right hand, test the pull a little. I stand up, big breath, grab the bar and pull…
I nailed it and now I wish I’d gone higher! Another lesson learned.
A fantastic opportunity. I’m very glad I did it. I met some really decent people — the membership secretary, record holders alike — and the encouragement was awesome.
The BDFPA is a good solid organisation with a great set of rules that I agree with (of those I’ve read), a strong no-drugs policy and a great inclusive attitude.
I can’t wait for the next one!