By: Josh Trammell
The thrill of competing is not something easily forgotten. Your heart pounds in your chest with a loud THUD, over and over, and a mix of fear and excitement runs through your veins as you prepare to perform. I had forgotten what that felt like, so I decided to train for and compete in the USAPL Southwest Collegiate Regionals in San Antonio, TX, in the Raw division.
I won’t delve too deeply into how I trained, but here’s a general overview. I followed the approach outlined HERE for the first 6-8 weeks before progress faded. Unfortunately, at the time, I wasn’t smart enough to make changes, so I had a 2 week plateau of sorts, before I dropped a day of squats, and added in high bar squats and paused squats to my training, which helped me finally smash through the plateau I had hit. Squats were trained 3x/week; Deadlift once per week, and bench once per week, for the final 3.5 weeks. It looked something like this:
- Paused High Bar
- Squat Assistance
- Posterior Chain/Bench Assistance
- Weighted Box Jumps
- High Bar
- Squat Assistance
- Competition-Style Squats
- Sumo DL’s
- Squat/Dead Assistance
Overall, a very simple (not easy) routine. Unfortunately, plans don’t always work out like you want them to; in my case, a nagging left hamstring issue decided to flare up again around 4 weeks out from the competition. It didn’t affect my squat or bench at all, but it hurt so bad when trying to get in the sumo stance that I couldn’t even pull 135 off the ground without severe pain. So I went the last 2.5 weeks without pulling in my competition stance, with some half-hearted block pulls and conventional stance deadlifts thrown into the mix, but certainly nothing remotely resembling worthwhile.
Additionally, due to an overzealous background in the gymnastics arena over the last 2 years, I had been dealing with severe elbow tendinosis over the course of the past year. Because I also coach gymnastics and spot kids on a regular basis, the pain sort of ebbs and flows, never fully going away; as it so happened, the pain didn’t go away until around 3.5 weeks out from the meet, which meant I could FINALLY train my bench press. So, coming into the meet, I had only trained the bench press for 3.5 weeks, and I hadn’t pulled anything significant for more than 2 weeks, nor had I set foot in a sumo stance for that period of time. Suffice it to say that I was very worried about those 2 lifts going into the meet.
Add to the fact that, when I decided to do the meet, I weighed in at 193 while looking to compete in the 182.5lbs weight class, and I had some real problems on my hands. Most people say 1) never lose weight for your first meet; just go out there and have fun, and 2) if you lose weight, you’re likely to lose some strength along with it. I said screw it to the first point - I knew my lifts were very close to being able to qualify for nationals (1151lbs total is what was needed in the 83kg class), and I figured I may initially lose some strength, but I was already at a lean 10.6% BF (via DEXA scan) before starting to lose weight, and with a combination of water manipulation and slowly dropping weight over the course of the 3 months that I was preparing for the meet, I figured I would be fine.
Turns out, I was right. The week before the meet, I weighed in at 184.3lbs - almost 9lbs down from where I started. The rest was simply a matter of water manipulation. Here’s how I did it:
Monday-Thurs: 2 gallons of water per day, <100g carbs per day
Friday: ~96oz of water, <50g carbs
Saturday: no carbs till weigh in.
Simple, and really easy. I actually cut better than I thought and overshot it a little bit; friday morning, I weighed in at 178.8lbs, and saturday morning, I weighed in at 176.1lbs before the meet. Of course, I read the email incorrectly, and went to the wrong weigh in. And, of course, I left to go refeed and had a huge bolus of carbs and salt before coming back on site and being told that I weighed in at the wrong time and would have to do it again. Greatttttttttt.
I was worried sick at this point; I didn’t know if I had eaten enough to gain all that water weight back or not. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I weighed in for the meet at 181.3. Ha! Holy crap. Got to refeed TWICE. This is probably how I will tackle 2-hour weigh ins in the future; unless you have someone sticking an IV in you, it’s really the only way to get back some of the water you lose and get the glycogen replenishment you need before you lift. Anyway.
Total: 505kgs = 1111lbs. Not too bad for a first meet.
Would I Change Anything?
Looking back, there were a few things I would change. First off, I would’ve been more dedicated about fixing these elbows. I’ve slowly been on the right track with both of them, but I slacked on some of the rehab which probably set me back on the bench quite a bit. For example, my triceps, historically one of if not my strongest bodypart, are now the weakest portion of my bench, due to not being able to do any elbow flexion/extension work for close to 10 months.
When squatting as frequently as I do, I think it’s important to plug in more variation; based on my results, I make progress for around 6 weeks before it peters out. I worked up to 395x3 with a belt, and the following two weeks I could neither match or exceed that number with that current training template. So, plugging in some sort of slight variation every 6-8 weeks has proven to be a very important way to keep making progress throughout the cycle.
That's it! Questions about doing meets? Want to start training for one? If you have any other questions regarding the meet/meet prep, comment below or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll get to it ASAP.