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NASA NE States Powerlifting Championships - 2008

Contest Report - PERFECTION!

9/9, 27 white lights, 8 NASA American Records!

For my final workouts leading up to this contest, see Full Workout Logs: Starting 4/27/08: In-Season; Weeks 6 - 10 of 10.

The Contest and Divisions

Contest:

Northeastern States Championships for the Natural Strength Athletes Association (NASA), June 7, 2008, held in Washington, PA, at Washington High School.

Weight Class: 114.5 pounds (52 kilograms).

Divisions:

Unequipped (belt and wraps, no suit or shirt).
Powerlifting (squat, bench, deadlift = total).
Open Pure (Lifetime Anabolic Steroid Free) and Masters (40+) Pure.

It was a small contest, with only 11 lifters, including two teenagers from the high school but no female lifters. The contest was held in the school’s gym. Half of the gym was used for the warm-up area and the other half for the contest platform. There was plenty of equipment for both, and it was run very well. It started on time at 10:00 am, and we were done by 2:30 pm.

Background

For the problems I had before this contest, see my previous forum posts Possible next contest/ going “unequipped” and I feel like James, from “Survivor.”

To update some of those points, the pain in my infected, left index finger was basically gone by contest time, but it was still swollen, so I could not use it to hold onto the bar. For the contest, I had to use just three fingers, wrapping my thumb around my middle finger. I knew that wouldn’t be a problem on squats and benches, but I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to hold onto my deadlifts.

On my weight, weigh-ins were at 6:00 pm the evening before the contest. I was at 116.8 that morning, but I weighed-in at 114.0. I’m planning on posting more details on my cut weight procedure later, so I’ll leave it at that for now. But I was able to get my weight back up to 118.0 the morning of the contest, and that was before an extra large breakfast.

However, due to my finger and other problems, I had difficulty sleeping all week, including the night before the contest. But strangely, I felt good the morning of the contest.

There was A/C in the gym, but with it going up to 88 degrees outside, it was still hot, but not oppressively so as at my last contest. And this time, I took an extra T-shirt with me and changed after squats as I knew my shirt would be soaked from sweat. Then for deadlifts, since the rules allowed it, I didn’t wear a shirt to keep as cool as possible. I also wetted my body down with cold water between lifts in the rest room. And I had plenty of liquids with me. That all helped keep the heat from being a problem.

Squats

The contest was held in kilograms. So for the weights below, kilos are given first then the pound equivalents in parentheses.

Gear: Crain singlet, power belt, squat shoes; APT heavy knee sleeves.

Warm-ups: bar/15, 65 (143)/8, 90 (198)/5, add gear: 110 (243)/3

Attempts: 127.5 (281), 140 (309), 150 (331)

Since this was my first NASA contest, I wasn’t sure on the judging, so I planned on really sinking my opener. It felt very light, but I just messed up and didn’t sink it as I planned. So I held my breath until three white lights came up (Note: There are three judges. A white light is given by a judge indicating a good lift; a red lift indicates a failed lifted).

Whew! I asked one of the judges afterwards, and he said it was just low enough. BTW, two of the judges were NASA certified-national judges, and the third was the meet director (Greg van Hoose).

I wanted to make sure I got my second attempt, so I figured I’d better sink it a little more just to be sure. It ended up being harder than I had hoped, but three whites. A couple of lifters told me it was about 2” below parallel.

I knew the only way I would get my third attempt was if I cut it higher, the same as my first lift. I hit it just right, it was a very hard lift, but I got it, and three more white lights. And my lifts were good for both the NASA Open Pure and Masters Pure American records.

A rather large lifter at the contest (who latter attempted a 600 pound bench at 59 years old), told me on my second attempt I was leaning forward too much, but on my third attempt, my form was perfect. I told him that with all of the problems I’ve had squats in the past year, that was really good to hear. If my form had not been “perfect” I probably would have missed that third attempt.

Benches

Gear: Gear: APT bench belt, 24” Black Mamba wrist wraps.

Warm-ups: bar/10, 42.5 (94)/8, 55 (121)/5, add gear: 65 (143)/3

Attempts: 72.5 (160), 80 (176), 85 (187)

My opener just flew up, very easy, and three whites. However, I noticed that the “Press” command was very slow in coming. With that slow command, my second attempt was once again harder than I had hoped. But I got it, and for three more whites.

For my third attempt, I considered dropping my planned attempt, but I was only going up by 5 kg as it was, and it didn’t seem worth it to go up by just 2.5 kg, so I went with my original plan. It was a very hard lift, a fight the whole way, I came up a little even, but still, three whites, and two more NASA records.

Since it was a national judge giving the “Press” command, I assume the slow signal is the norm in NASA, so I will have to pause my reps a little more in training from now if I stick with NASA.

Deadlifts

Gear: Crain power belt, APT knee sleeves; Nike wrestling shoes.

Warm-ups: 65 (143)/8, 95 (209)/5, add gear: 125 (276)/3

Attempts: 155 (342), 170 (375), 182.5 (402)

This was the lift I was worried about due to my finger. But it was also the lift that had gone best in training all year. So until my finger, I was really looking forward to deadlifts, and I went ahead with my original plans despite the finger. As it turned out, I had no problems holding onto the bar for any of my lifts.

My opener was again very easy, and my second attempt harder than I had hoped. But white lights across the board.

Once again, I considered dropping my planned third attempt, but I really wanted to pull over 400 pounds, so I stuck with my plans. I just knew I really needed to get psyched up.

Also, my belt was fitting a little loose when I hooked into on the hole I normally do. This of course was due to cutting weight, but it wasn’t so loose that I could get it onto the next hole. I noticed it on squats, but it didn’t seem too loose then. But for deadlifts, it was even looser. I guess I lost weight during the course of the contest.

I used it as it was for my first two attempts. But I knew I needed every little bit of help for my third attempt. So I asked a big dude who wasn’t competing to help me get it into the next hole. It was a struggle, but we got it. So my belt was really tight now.

In any case, once I got the bar off of the floor, I knew I had it, as long as I didn’t give up. It was a hard fight, but I locked it out with no problems. Three more white lights and two more NASA American records. 402 pounds was also over 3-1/2 times bodyweight. And most of all, 9/9 for the first time since my first contest over five years ago. I was so psyched! I was jumping up and down, screaming and yelling.

Afterwards, the same big guy who commented on my form on squats helped me get my belt off. He then said that my hips were too far back during most of the lift, but I pushed them forward just in time to get the lockout.

He said he was yelling “Hips! Hips!” during the lift. But I didn’t hear him. Come to think of it, I don’t think I heard a thing during any of my lifts from the time I stepped onto the platform until after I completed the lift. I guess that’s good, showing a lot of focus.

Total

I totaled 417.5 kg (920 pounds), good for two more NASA American records. So I now hold all four records in both “pure” divisions in NASA. The total was also over eight times bodyweight.

The total is also good enough to qualify for a “masters” ranking on NASA’s classification chart. I only need 50 more pounds for an “elite” total. And note that NASA only has one chart for both equipped and unequipped lifters.

On the “Raw” classification chart that “Team iXL” came out with a couple of years ago, I would already have the “elite” standing. That chart assumes just a belt is worn, but since knee sleeves and wrist wraps do not really add anything to the lifts, then it's applicable to the limited gear I wore.

Thoughts on Gear

I really enjoyed myself at this contest. That is an important statement as I could not say the same for my last several contests. The reason was, in a word, gear. All of the problems I have had with multi-ply gear (squat suit, briefs, bench shirt, deadlift suit, even knee wraps) the last few years took all of the “fun” out of powerlifting.

At contests, getting the gear on and off and adjusted just right would leave me so exhausted it was a fight to make it through the day without dropping from exhaustion. This of course is due to my suffering from fibromyalgia. It also seemed like I was so focused on the gear, that I was barely focusing on the lifts themselves, which is probably why I never went 9/9 using multi-ply gear.

But with wearing just a belt and knee sleeves on squats and deadlifts and a belt and wrist wraps on benches, the gear was not an issue, except for the minor problem with my belt. As a result, I could focus on my lifts and on enjoying myself. And most importantly, I made it through the contest without feeling exhausted. It also helped in that regard that it was a quick moving contest.

I was very tried afterwards. But it was nothing like the absolute exhaustion I had been feeling after a contest when using gear. Even the next day, I would feel still feel exhausted, but this time, I was not too bad.

Note also that my best total wearing multi-ply gear was 1030 pounds. That means that all of the hassle, all of the stress, all of the exhaustion, along with all of the money that I expended on gear over the last few years added all of 110 pounds to my total. Definitely not worth it.

In addition, my knees were just fine afterwards, no pain whatsoever. So my new APT heavy knee sleeves are sufficient for knee protection, but are still very easy to pull on and off. I am very glad APT came out with their new knee sleeves just in time for me to train with them for this contest as I almost gave up on powerlifting.

What all of this means is, the limited gear I used for this contest is what I will be using from now on. And with things working out so well this time, I will probably continue to enter one or two contest a year.

Since this was the first time I competed wearing such a limited amount of gear, I really don’t have anything to compare it to. But I did set myself a rather high bench mark for me to improve upon for future contests.

Next Contest

During the contest, I was talking to one of the teenagers from the high school who had entered the contest. He said the reason more from his school had not entered the contest is that school had ended the week before, so many were at graduations parties. We were thinking that next year, they should hold the contest in May, before school lets out.

But just as I was leaving, I talked to the track coach from the high school. He had helped out with the contest. Track is of course during the spring, so May would not work, but he said that they were thinking of holding another contest this winter. If that ends up being the case, then that could very possibly be my next contest. If the contest happens, it will probably be listed on NASA's Web site and on Greg's NASA Regional Web site. If that contest does not happen, then I will look around for something else within the next six months or so.

In the meantime, I will take a few days off of lifting then start a new training routine. With things going so well this time, I will use the same basic training format I used to prepare for this contest.

Contest Music

Before this contest, the meet director had told me we could bring our own music to be played during out attempts. So I burned a CD with heavy metal Christian music and took that with me.

At the contest, the meet director’s wife, Susan, worked the scorer’s table, announced the contest, played the music, and even judged on some attempts. So she was busy!

Before the contest, I gave her my CD. When she read the tracks I had typed out on the cover, she asked, “Is this Contemporary Christian Music?” I replied, “Is that a problem?” She replied, “Not at all. We’re Christians. In fact, I was just getting ready to put on an Audio Adrenaline CD” (A Christian rock band).

Unfortunately, the CD I burned wouldn’t play in her CD system. I’m not sure why, it worked fine on my CD player. I recorded the files in Windows Audio format. Next time, I guess I should also record a second CD in MP3 format. Maybe that would play.

But at it was, fortunately, I also took with me a store-bought Bride CD (a Christian heavy metal group). Susan ended up playing that CD all the way through a couple of times during the contest, along with the Audio Adrenaline CD she brought. She also played some AC/DC and other secular music. But it was nice having some Christian music playing during the contest. I felt like I was working out at home!

I let her keep the CD I had burned. I figured, if she can figure out why it didn’t work, she could use it at their next contest. And next time I enter one of their contests, I’ll take along more Christian music with me for them to use.

Ranking Lists

Powerlifting Watch now has its own ranking lists, with separate lists for raw, single-ply, and mutli-ply lifters. Unfortunately, they are lumping together 114s, 123s, and 132s under the 132 pound class. But despite competing against lifters as much as two weight classes above me, my rankings as a result of this contest were pretty good. On the raw list as of 6/18/08, my lifts from this contest place me at:

Lift Weight Rank
Squat 331 #2
Bench 187 #46
Deadlift 402 #7
Total 920 #2

The #1 lifter for squats and total (Hennis Washington) is a 132 pounder, so that means I am actually the #1 lifter at 114s.

Thanks

Many thanks to Greg and Susan for the well-run contest. Thanks to the judges and spotters for their efforts as well.

Thanks to APT for sponsoring the contest and for providing free wraps to be raffled off afterwards. I picked up a free pair of 24” Blue Mamba wrist wraps. Those will match my bench belt better than my black ones, so I’ll use them for my next contest.

And most of all, thanks and praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for enabling me to endure the hardships leading up to this contest and for the great day despite all of the problems.

For pictures from this contest, see NASA NE States Powerlifting Championships - 2008 - Pictures.

For my first workouts after this contest, see Full Workout Logs: Starting 6/13/08: Off-Season; Weeks 1 - 4.

The above contest report was posted on this site June 10, 2008.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Contest Reports

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