I competed in the sixth powerlifting meet of my career last Saturday at the RPS New England Revolution in Johnston, R.I. I squatted 515, benched 365 and deadlifted 555 for a 1435 total at 198. That’s a 5-pound meet PR in each lift and 15-pound total PR. I won the 198 raw classic open class and earned Best Overall Lifter for the amateur drug tested division. Plus, my sister Alex kicked some serious ass at her first competition and we had some awesome support from friends and family.
It was a great experience all around. RPS always puts on a great meet and they flew through 90-plus lifters in about 12 hours. It’s also nice to wake up and drive 20 minutes to a meet instead of five hours. Watching Alex achieve her goals was incredibly motivating and no doubt helped me hit three PRs.
A 5-pound increase in each lift doesn’t seem like much, but slow and steady wins the race when it comes to assembling a successful powerlifting career. I fell just short of my 1450 goal, which I would have gotten had I not missed my 380 bench – the only third attempt I thought was in the bag. Either way, I left nothing on the platform for squat and deadlift and picked my attempts almost perfectly. Here’s the video and breakdown:
480 – good
500 – good
515 – good, 5-pound PR
345 – good
365 – good, 5-pound meet PR (I’ve hit 370 in training)
380 – no good
505 – good
545 – good, secured 1425 for 5-pound total PR
555 – good, 5-pound PR
Alex drove down from Boston on Friday and we drove to Next Level Fitness to weigh in. I’d been there a few times since I’ve got friends who train/coach there, so I was comfortable with the environment and it’s a great venue for a meet. We both made weight easily, so we spent the evening devouring sushi with my parents who made the trek from Vermont.
We got to the meet around 7 a.m. on Saturday so Alex could get settled and foam roll before the rules meeting. She was in the first flight for everything so we had to hustle a bit, but there was a great crew of loaders/spotters in the warmup room including several guys from Total Performance Sports in Boston who were extremely helpful. The TPS representation was very strong all weekend and it was nice to be surrounded by familiar faces.
Alex ended up squatting 210 for a 35-pound PR, benching 120 for a 10-pound PR and hitting a dramatic 265 deadlift after missing it twice. She went 3-for-3 on squats and absolutely killed it on 210. It was a tough grinder and she showed some grit to stick with it. She missed her third bench at 135. 120 had been a big battle for her but went up easily, so we took a good gamble for 135 but she’s not quite there yet.
Deadlifts nearly turned the entire day upside down. Alex was having some trouble breaking the floor in the warmup room, so we adjusted her stance a bit to help her speed. After crushing 265 as an opener two weeks ago, Alex didn’t budge 265 on her first try and missed it below her knees on the second try. Suddenly, we went from hoping for 300 on her third to just praying she wouldn’t bomb out. For the first time in my life, I was speechless as a coach. Any coach wants their lifter to do well, but she’s my sister. I was pretty emotionally involved at this point.
I was scared to tell Alex that if she didn’t complete at least one deadlift, she’d be disqualified. Luckily, Dustin from TPS saw it differently and told her straight up. It made sense because we had nothing to lose by telling her. Either she’d get discouraged and shut down – and she’d be done for anyways – or she’d get fired up and make the lift. Fortunately, she took the latter and hit 265 like she knew she always could.
All I can say is that in my five-plus years of powerlifting, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen someone miss a lift once and come back to get it on a second try. For Alex to miss her deadlift twice and then successfully get it on a third try is nothing short of amazing. Pure determination at its finest.
My session started around 3 p.m. and I was in flight three for everything. I was a little concerned that coaching all morning would leave me tired in the afternoon, but once I started warming up I felt great. Squat warmups were a breeze and I hit my 480 opener easily. 500 was even better after a tight setup, and 515 was a grinder but got 3 white lights for a 5-pound PR.
Bench has been my best lift for the last year and I was dialed in to hit a big number. Warmups were equally awesome and my 345 opener flew up. 365 was also a breeze for a 5-pound meet PR, so I called for 380 to set me up for the 1450 total. Even with an air-tight setup and solid pull to the chest, I couldn’t move it. With little-to-no technical error, I couldn’t be mad about the miss. I’m just not strong enough yet.
The 380 miss left me needing a 570 deadlift to hit 1450, so I dismissed that notion and focused on getting a PR deadlift and total. This meant I needed 545 for my second and 555 for my third. I used a lot of Brian Cain-isms this meet – a lot of “W.I.N.” (What’s Important Now) and “200 feet” (the distance a car’s headlights can see, reminding me to focus on the present moment).
It seemed to work. 505 was a breezy opener even though it came up slightly uneven. I thought I lined up off-center, but looking at the video, it looks like the right side collar wasn’t tight and the plates started to slide a little. I took 545 next, which wasn’t blazing fast but came up smooth for the 1425 total – a 5-pound PR. Next, I needed 555 to get PRs in all three lifts. It’s a good thing I didn’t gamble for 570, cuz 555 took everything I had. I’ve never gotten the shakes like that before, but recently learning to engage my lats more effectively certainly paid off and I was able to keep the bar in tight the whole time. I knew I had it once I broke the floor, but I just needed to keep from hitching once it cleared my knees. 3 whites, new PR. And the video’s in black and white because my girlfriend doesn’t like how red my face gets when I lift. Love you sweetie!
Overall, it was a great meet and fantastic learning experience for both me and Alex. Next up is the RPS Power Challenge in Boston in October. That gives us both about 12 weeks to work on weaknesses and shake up our training for a bit. I’ve still got my 1450 total to chase but a pro-qualifying 1470 total may not be out of the question. Alex wants to deadlift 300 and I think a 225 squat and 135 bench are reachable goals as well. Stay tuned, cuz the Bonvechios are a powerlifting family now.