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This is my second ever powerlifting meet.

2013 CPF Amateur Powerlifting Championships  Deadlift 3rd Attempt  255 Kg  562.2 lb

Long story short, here are my results:

Weight Class: 90 Kg (198.4 lb)
Weighed In At: 89.5 Kg (197.3 lb)
Age: 33

Squat: 235 Kg (518 lb)
Bench Press: 170 Kg (374.8 lb)
Deadlift: 255 Kg (562.2 lb)
Total: 660 Kg (1455 lb)

PR's in all lifts!

My primary goal for this meet was to break all of my personal records in all three lifts, and my secondary goal was to get the national record for my weight class.

Short story long, here’s my “meet write up”:

Meet Details


So this was the CPF Canadian Amateur Powerlifting Championships sponsored by Rescindx Apparel that was held on Sunday, June 9, 2013 at Resurrection Catholic Secondary School in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

I signed up for the Men's 90 Kg (198.4 lb) weight class, open division.

It's my second time competing at a powerlifting meet, and my first time competing in the Canadian Powerlifting Federation.

Even before the meet, I had a feeling I would like the CPF because their rules (which are the WPC rules) allows for the reverse grip bench press, among other things. Many other powerlifting federations are a bunch of gripcists who do not allow the reverse grip during the bench press for some reason.

Meet Preparation

It’s really broken down into 3 categories:

  1. Training
  2. Recovery
  3. Eating

1. Training: Increasing Intensity & Building Confidence In My Lifts

In general, I increased the intensity (% of 1RM) for all of my lifts, decreased the number of reps for my sets. I kept the volume about the same.

I went hard and heavy up until a little over 1 week before the competition.

Also, I started to do mostly paused bench presses.

Squat: I couldn’t get the 500 lb x 2 low bar squat, but I did manage to do it pretty easily after putting on knee wraps. Even though the competition did not allow knee wraps, I knew that my hips and spine and whatever body parts that aren’t affected by knee wraps are able to handle 500 lb x 2 squat.

Bench Press: A couple of weeks earlier I started going heavier on my paused bench presses, hitting 370 lb x 1 on 2 occasions. I figured if I can pause a 370 lb bench, then 374.8 lb would be doable.

Started doing sets of 3 on Monday, and sets of 2 on Fridays.

I also tried bench pressing on a Wednesday, but I think benching 3 times per week was too much for me. I’m going to be switching back to my older routine of bench pressing on Monday and Friday, and overhead pressing on Wednesday.

Deadlift: This was the lift I was most worried about.

For one, I had to rebuild the pain tolerance for the hook grip.

Second, I had to built the strength back up to pull from the floor.

To rebuild the pain tolerance in my thumbs, I dedicated one day to hook grip L-sit chin ups, along with hook grip deadlifts on another day.

2 weeks before the meet, I managed to hook grip deadlift 550 lb off a bunch of mats.

And a week or so before that, I hit a deadlift PR with straps at 560 lb.

I figured if I could pull 560 lb off the floor with straps, and hook grip deadlift 550 lb off some mats, I should be able to hook grip deadlift 550 lb off the floor.

2. Recovery

I really didn’t focus on doing anything different with recovery until a little over 1 week before the meet.

The goal was to increase the frequency and quality of sleep.

So I power napped for about 30 minutes each day in the afternoon.

Also, at night I started taking some ZMA, melatonin and an extra fish oil pill. I’ve never taken ZMA before, and supposedly it helps you sleep better, recovery better, have crazy dreams etc. But I’m not sure if this really happened.

3. Eating


1 week before the meet, I was 206.8 lb and had to lose about 9 lb for the weigh in. My diet didn’t really change until a couple of days before weigh ins, and all I really did was eat 1/3 of the rice I normally ate. More on the weight cut below.

1 Week Out


The last week I still lifted, but it was relatively light for the squat and bench press, and I totally skipped on deadlifts.

I only did my warm up for the squat and bench press on the Monday before the meet, and an even lighter warm up on Thursday.

On the Thursday before the meet, I was feeling fresh and itching to lift something heavy, so I decided to go for an overhead press 2 rep max PR at 245 lb!

This could be a stupid mistake if I ended up missing lifts at the meet, but I figure that “245 lb” is relatively light compared to the loads I would be lifting with for the squat, bench press and deadlift, and my body wouldn’t be burnt out from overhead pressing that weight twice.

Weight Cut

My weight cut strategy was pretty simple: piss and sweat it out.

I did a basic water load, where (starting Monday I believe) I drank a lot of water throughout the day. This caused me to pee a lot. On Thursday, I stopped drinking so much water but continued to urinate frequently.

Also, on Thursday I stopped eating so much rice (ie. decrease carbohydrates).

The next step was to sweat it out in the bathtub.

I took a hot bath on Friday night and Saturday morning before the weigh in.

Here was my weight after Friday’s bath:


I only laid in the bathtub for about 10 minutes before getting out and weighing myself. I repeated the process until I was satisfied with the weight.

Because the meet was held in Kitchener (a city that’s close to where I live), I didn’t have to stay at a hotel and just stayed home.

Problem was trying to take a hot bath at home was a pain in the ass.

The hot water wasn’t that hot, and there was barely any water pressure! It took a very long time to fill up the tub.

I had to boil water in an electric kettle and pour it into the tub a few times to help fill it up.

Even though I only needed to sweat out 4 lb, the “hot bath at home” process was a hassle.

Oh, and I’d like to mention if anyone wants to try taking a hot bath at home for a weight cut:

Make sure you clean your bathtub first before taking a bath!

I didn’t clean the tub for Friday’s bath and man, it felt gross! I felt a lot of grimy, slimy stuff while my body was pressed against the tub Sick smile

Weigh In

After my final session in the bathtub, I was 198.0 lb on my digital scale.


At the weigh in location, I was 89.5 Kg (197.3 lb).

Sweet! Made weight and my weight loss journey has come to an end.

Post Weigh In Meal


"Hey, you wanna win, you gotta fuel like a winner!" - Dwight Schrute.






Well, I started off the day pretty bad by showing up late and missing my first squat attempt. For some reason, I thought things would run slowly and I could make it just in time to warm up. This was not the case.

Someone greeted me when I arrived and told me my name was already called for the first squat attempt.

Ah shit.

I asked who I needed to talk to in order to figure out what to do, and I was pointed to the announcer who was standing by a set of tables.

As I walked closer, I saw that my name and my first attempt was already crossed off on the scoreboard that was projected onto the big screen, and I was thinking how it would really suck if I couldn’t lift! All this training would have been for nothing!

I was also thinking how it’s going to suck to get yelled at for being late.

Well, I talked to the jacked gentleman with the big traps working the mic about coming in late (I think he’s one of the main guys running the meet? I’m not sure), and at first he said he would let me bench press and deadlift, but since I just arrived and missed my first squat, I couldn’t squat.


I was in the moment of coming to terms with the consequences of my tardiness but then he had an even better idea and put me into another flight…Sweet!

Originally I was in “Flight B”, but now I was in “Flight D”, which was the very last flight. It looked like it consisted of mostly girls and lighter guys. I was also the last lifter on the list.

I was kind of hoping to get my lifts in, maybe skip on my 3rd attempt for the deadlift if my 2nd attempt was a struggle, and leave a bit early.

My Mom, wife, brother and 2 of my nephews were there to watch me (thanks!), and I’m pretty sure by the end of the day they were tired of watching people lift weights haha.

Since I was in the LAST flight and the LAST person on the list to lift (for 3rd attempts), leaving early was out of the question unless I bombed out somehow.

Anyway, onto the lifts!


First time squatting in a monolift. Pretty cool!

Squat warm ups seemed very quick and efficient, almost like an assembly line.

Every lifter lined up in front of a monolift (there were 2 in the competition; 1 for warm ups, and another for the main lift) and took turns squatting. After a warm up set, the lifter would head back to the end of the line while the next lifter proceeds with his or her warm up.

There were volunteer spotters/plate changers during the warm ups as well (my first meet did not have this).

I was rather impressed.

Warm Up


I pretty much went through my standard warm up for the squat. Low bar, and mostly paused.

I’m assuming the bar is 45 lb:

  • 45 lb: 10
  • 135 lb: 5
  • 225 lb: 5
  • 315 lb: 3
  • 405 lb: 1

Squat 1st attempt: 210 Kg (~463 lb)

Easy opener. I normally squat 460 lb in my warm ups.

The problem I had was squatting on a carpet. Not sure why there was a carpet, but I decided to walk the bar out of the monolift because I figure it was what I was used to, so why change.

But I was not used to squatting on a carpet, and my left foot got caught in the carpet which almost threw me off. Got the lift though.

Squat 2nd Attempt: 235 Kg (518 lb)

This was a +3 lb PR, but it did not count because I didn’t wait for the squat command Annoyed

DARN IT. Newbie mistake (hey, it’s my second meet!)

Also, this time I opted NOT to walk the bar out, and simply get into my squat stance and squat down.

I think I was more focused on getting into my stance and squatting without walking out instead of paying attention to the head judge.

Squat 3rd Attempt: 235 Kg (518 lb)

I attempted the same weight for my 3rd attempt because I did not want to miss a squat.

I got it, but looking back I should have at least went for 237.5 Kg (523.6 lb).

Bench Press


Time to get some strange looks for my reverse grip bench press!

I changed out of my Three Wolf Moon shirt into a some other shirt with some logos on the back. Didn’t want my body to be slipping on the bench.

Also, a note on the bench rack. There were safety bars on the bench! I was not expecting this, but it made me feel at ease and a sense of security that the bar would not fall on my face if I lose control of the bar and miss the lift.

I didn’t notice anyone changing the height of the safety bars though…

Warm Up


All paused.

The rack height was lower than what I’m used to, so it was a little harder to unrack the bar by myself. Still doable.

  • 45 lb: 10
  • 135 lb: 5
  • 225 lb: 3
  • 275 lb: 1

Bench Press 1st Attempt: 150 Kg (330.7 lb)

At the time of writing this, the weight of 330 lb is my current bench press 4RM (missed on the 5th rep).

I actually lowered my opener from 160 Kg (352.7 lb) because I wanted to play it safe, just in case I had issues with the bench height, rack height, slipping on the bench etc.

Good thing I did, because for my bench opener, the rack height was initially too low (it was set at a “5”). I had it changed to a “6”, but as they were changing it, the countdown timer on the wall was counting down.

I heard I had 28 seconds to complete the lift as they finished adjusting the height, so I felt a bit rushed to finish the lift.

As I grabbed onto the bar, my Titan Max RPM wrist wrap on my left arm came off. I quickly re-wrapped it again, and as I grasp the bar, it popped off again!

Screw it – I shook it off my arm, grabbed onto the bar with one wrist wrap, unracked it and benched it.

The person who was going to hand off the bar to me…I didn't know (or I just forgot) he was waiting to hand off the bar lol

Bench Press 2nd Attempt: 170 Kg (374.8 lb)

I changed to my backup Schiek wrist wraps because I didn’t want to encounter the same issues with the Velcro not holding. They’re the same length (about 24”), but nowhere near as strong as the Titan Max RPMs.

My paused bench press PR was 370 lb (which I’ve done twice over the past couple of weeks), so this is a +4.8 lb PR.

Bench Press 3rd Attempt: 175 Kg (385.8 lb)

I was pretty sure I could not have bench pressed this weight with a pause (my max touch-and-go bench press is 385 lb though).

Maybe this mentality worked against me because it did go up a little bit after the descent.

In hindsight, I should have been a little more conservative and went for a smaller 2.5 Kg jump to 172.5 Kg (380.3 lb). Or changed back into my Three Wolf Moon shirt and nail this weight.

A comment posted about the video asking:

How did you fail so high up? It looked like you were a few inches from finishing the lift.

At first I thought the bar had just drifted backwards (towards my head) or it was just too heavy. But after watching the video a few times, it looked like my back might have slipped on the bench causing me to lose control. Looking at my knees, it looked like there was a small jolt backwards just before missing the lift.

Even though I wore a shirt with a logo on the back, and slapped on some chalk on my back, I believe I still slipped. DAMMIT. I need to get this slipping on the bench thing figured out.


This is usually my least favorite lift, but for the meet, it was actually my favorite.

Deadlifting just felt easy today. It might have been from the caffeine boost from that Starbucks coffee Christine Beauchamp gave me (th-thanks…by the way, you can read Christine’s meet write up here), or because of the bar used for the deadlift. Or both.

My understanding is that the bar used during this meet was a “deadlift bar” which is supposedly whippier and thinner than a regular barbell.

I was told it was 27 mm in diameter, which made it easier for me to wrap my stubby thumbs around for the hook grip.

The knurling was really sharp though, much, much sharper than my B&R bar. It was like I was grabbing onto a metal stick with a bunch of tiny spikes on it.

Also, it was my first time applying baby powder to my thighs for the deadlift. From what I understand, baby powder (also known as talcum powder) reduces friction, so that the bar can slide up and down the legs easily.

During the warm up, I felt the bar kind of sticking on my thighs as it travelled up. It must have been my thigh sweat causing this, so I headed over to the chalk/baby powder area to apply baby powder to my thighs.

The trick is not to get baby powder on your hands when you apply it to your legs (baby powder reduces friction, so it would make it harder to hold onto the bar during the deadlift). Before doing this, I saw someone else apply baby powder to the front of their thighs and used the bottom of the bottle to spread it around. I copied this technique and it works pretty well.

Lastly, there was one tiny spot on my left shin that was very tender (probably from having a 235 lb bar bounce into my shins), so every time I touched my shin to the bar prior to lifting, it hurt! I put a couple of bandages on it to lessen any bar-to-shin impact.

Warm Up


I switched to my second/backup Three Wolf Moon shirt for extra power, put on my knee high socks and deadlift slippers.

Also I used a full sized deadlift jack with wheels. Man, it made lifting the bar effortless!

Hook grip.

  • 135 lb: 5
  • 225 lb: 5
  • 315 lb: 3
  • 405 lb: 1

Deadlift 1st Attempt: 227.5 Kg (501.6 lb)

500 lb is usually my last warm up weight for the deadlift. This went up smoothly as expected.

Deadlift 2nd Attempt: 250 Kg (551.2 lb)

+11.2 lb PR!

Also very smooth. I was surprised how easy it felt…too easy.

Deadlift 3rd Attempt: 255 Kg (562.2 lb)

Another deadlift PR! I was actually thinking of passing on my 3rd attempt, but after feeling how easy 250 Kg went up, I decided to go for it.

255 Kg (562.2 lb) went up fast, and I didn’t even make any weird faces. That means I could have pulled a lot more.

I should have went up to 260 Kg though (573 lb) or maybe even more.

The big scary looking guy with the beard standing behind me told me I should open with this weight next time. Actually he offered words of encouragement and some technical advice that I can’t recall at this time before my lifts, which was cool.

Normally I lift alone so I don’t hear anyone talking to me but myself haha.

After the deadlift, my thumbs were throbbing in pain. It was hard to open a water bottle and put on my sweat pants without experiencing thumb pain.


Squat: 235 Kg (518 lb)
Bench Press: 170 Kg (374.8 lb)
Deadlift: 255 Kg (562.2 lb)
Total: 660 Kg (1455 lb)

PR's in all lifts!

I’m pretty sure I could have squatted a little bit more, and deadlifted a lot more.

I’m also a bit disappointed that I didn’t get the 175 Kg (385.8 lb) bench press now that I saw that I slipped on the bench. That would have been a +0.8 lb PR above my touch-and-go personal best.

I’m not sure what place I came in for my weight class (90 Kg), but according to this picture I was “Place – 1”:


I’m not 100% sure this means “1st place”, but I know the previous amateur raw full power total record for 90 Kg men in the CPF was 650 Kg, so I think I beat that (unless I was looking at old data, or someone else got a higher total during the meet).

We’ll see when the official results come out.

I did win 1st place in something though. Something to do with sub-masters…something something (I forget):


Random Thoughts & Stuff

  • The popularity of raw powerlifting is growing, and it was evident in this meet. There were 4 flights, and about 15+ people in each flight. The meet was very organized and ran smoothly despite having a lot of lifters.
  • Metal music was playing for most of the meet. When I was trying to sleep, I kept on hearing metal music in my head for some reason.
  • That Excel scoring sheet that was projected onto the screen was pretty cool. It showed pictures of the plates you needed to add the the bar given a certain weight. I’m sure this must have helped the plate loaders figure out exactly what to add to the bar.
    *UPDATE* That spreadsheet is called "Next Lifter". Thanks Craig!
  • Met/seen a few of people from Facebook, Fitocracy, Reddit and Twitter. It’s always interesting to see people from the internet in a 3D environment.
  • Monolift is cool. The great thing about the monolift is that you don’t have to walk the bar out. My question is…why is it called a MONO (meaning single or one) when it requires more than 1 person to operate?
  • I like how the deadlift bar made my deadlift numbers and ego bigger.
  • I didn’t really eat much all day. I normally don’t eat until I’m finished my workout, and during the workout I just sip on a protein energy drink (without the ephedrine). I only ate some beef jerky, some meat stick, and a couple of honey cruller donuts.
  • A bunch of pictures of the meet can be found here in my Facebook photo album. Check it out...if you were there that day, you could be in it!

What Next

  • I’m a “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” kind of guy. Well, whatever it is I’m doing for training, nutrition and recovery seems to be working well, so I’m going to stick to what I’m currently doing. For the most part.
  • Maintain/increase the pain tolerance for the hook grip. Building up the pain tolerance sucks, and I think maintaining it would be a lot easier.
  • Figure out a surefire way to avoid slipping on the bench. It seems to be a consistent problem that is causing me to miss lifts.
  • I might try experimenting with sumo stance for the deadlift. I have a feeling sumo, combined with a hook grip would make for an effective combination.
  • I was thinking about doing sets of 10 reps and 8 reps to get my muscles bigger, but I dunno…I don’t want to get too big. I don’t want to go through the hassle of cutting a lot of weight. We’ll see.

Goals For The Next Meet

I believe there is going to be another CPF meet in my area in December 2013.

The goal will be:

  • Squat: 250 Kg (551.2 lb)
  • Bench Press: 182.5 Kg (402.3 lb)
  • Deadlift: 272.5 Kg (600.8 lb)

Training begins…tomorrow.

1 week out from the Canadian Amateur Powerlifting Championships on Sunday, June 9, 2013!

Damn. Time sure flies fast.

Plans For This Upcoming Week

Take it easy. I'm probably just going to do my warm ups for my main lifts on Monday and Wednesday for practice, and do a bunch of foam rolling and mobility work all week to keep loose. Also, I want to let my body recover and hopefully any nagging aches and pains will be gone by next Sunday.

Sleep better. I picked up some ZMA and melatonin to help me with this. I've read good things about ZMA, but so far after 2 nights I don't notice any difference. I was expecting some vivid, awesome dreams at least, but they were the vague, normal dreams that I regularly have.

Sleep Supplements

Sleep Supplements

Eat less carbs. In other words, eat less rice. Goddammit.

Water loading. I done this one for my first powerlifting meet last year. Basically drink a lot of water, pee a lot, then stop drinking so much water before weighing in (but keep on peeing) so you piss out a lot of water weight. It didn't really work well for me back then, but maybe I'll temporarily lose more water weight this year with this method.

Current Body Weight

206.8 lb

About 207 lb.

I normally don't weigh myself so in my mind I'm always "around 200 lb". Well, I weighed myself this morning and I was about 207 lb.

That means I need to lose 9 lb to make weight on Saturday (I'm weighing in on Saturday, and the competition is on Sunday).

Hopefully this water loading and pissing it out will help me lose some water weight this year, but I'm probably going to lose the most weight by sweating it off during a hot bath like last year.

Knee Wraps

This past week I discovered firsthand how effective knee wraps are for the squat. I bought them in September 2012 and never really tried them out on heavy sets of squats. Until now. PRs below.

Personally I don't consider using knee wraps "raw" simply because they provide assistance in the lift. There is elastic energy stored in the knee wraps which definitely helps move the weight in the lift, especially out of the bottom of the squat position.

So far, I like them.

They let me handle more weight, and I think the knee wraps will be a valuable training tool in the future for me. I'll probably do something like squat with knee wraps one week, and then the next week or so, attempt the same weight without knee wraps (Knee Wrap Progression Method™).

I've added 3 more rows to my personal records table to indicate knee wrapped squats.

Anyway, onto the PRs I've done this past week:

Front Squat: 405 lb x 1 (1RM with Knee Wraps)

On Wednesday was my first time wearing knee wraps for a 1RM attempt, and probably my 5th time wearing them ever for a lift.

I missed on this weight a couple of weeks ago, and weight knee wraps I got it with not much struggle. Eventually I'll want to front squat 405 lb without the assistance of knee wraps.

Overhead Press: 235 lb x 3 (3RM)

Held it on the top for the last rep, and when I brought it back down somehow I lost balance.

I tried to bring it back down under control, but the bar slipped out of my hands while trying to catch it.

It dropped on the edge of some rubber mats I had in front of my rack, and the bar bounced right into my shins. Here's the aftermath:


Shin damage from OHP :/

Low Bar Squat: 500 lb x 2 (2RM with Knee Wraps)

I've been struggling to get 500 lb x 2 in the low bar squat, but thanks to knee wraps, I got it on Friday!

Actually felt like I could have went for another rep. I didn't even make a squat face on that last rep. Might try 3 reps in a couple of weeks, or attempt 500x2 without knee wraps.

High Bar Squat: 500 lb x 2 (2RM with Knee Wraps)

I like to keep my low bar and high bar squat workload balanced, so I did this on Saturday:

This was a bit harder than the low bar squat at 500 lb x 2.

Mat Pull: 550 lb x 1

I read somewhere that you shouldn't really deadlift so close to a meet, so I opted for a partial deadlift instead. I just wanted to make sure that my thumbs and my mind will be able to handle the load that I'm hoping to pull (I deadlift with a hook grip).

I figure if I can deadlift 550 lb off of 6 1/4" mats with a hook grip, and I can deadlift 560 lb off the ground with straps (which I did last week), then I should be able to deadlift 550 lb off the ground using a hook grip during the competition next week.

Mash Elite Strength Extravaganza

Mash Elite Strength Extravaganza

I heard about this event from Greg Nuckols, who, by the way, is an absolute monster (a nice, good guy monster), smart and wise beyond his years. I would subscribe to his blog if I were you.

This looks pretty awesome.

From the Mash Elite Strength Extravaganza Facebook page:

This event will be the greatest test of strength ever devised. A two day event with weightlifting, powerlifting, and strongman events all included, it will answer the age-old question, "who is the strongest athlete?" It is guaranteed to have events in which you excel, and also events that expose your weaknesses. Whoever emerges victorious at the end of two grueling days of competition can rightfully claim greatness in the realm of strength athletics.

The event is basically this:

  1. Saturday Morning - Olympic Lifts (Snatch, Clean & Jerk)
  2. Saturday Afternoon - Powerlifting (Squat, Bench Press, Deadlift)
  3. Sunday - Strongman (Log Press, Tire Flipping, Farmers Walks, 18" Deadlift For Reps, Stones, Truck Pulling etc)

More about how this event is going to be run, weight classes and scoring here.

It kinda reminds me of the good ol' days of mixed martial arts (which was then known as NHB, or no-holds barred) where barely anyone was a "mixed martial artist" and they only trained in one style. Back then, they would pit fighters from various disciplines (style vs style) to see which fighter and style was the best.

This seems like it's pitting strength athletes against each other in some mixed-strength competition to see who is the strongest in each weight class.

It would have been cool if they brought back the old school clean and press into the competition though!

But I like this idea, and it will be interesting to see how this will turn out, and if it'll catch on as the next "big thing" since CrossFit.

Stuff You Should Read

  1. A Lion in Iron: It’s Not That Complicated, Part 3 by Alexander Cortes
  2. 5 Reasons Women Shouldn’t Be Intimidated by Powerlifting by Caitlyn Trout
  3. West of Westside by Daniel Green
  4. Barbell Training as Rehab by Karl Schudt

220Kg 484lbs Asian Squat


The well developed, hypertrophied type of glutes that can only be forged under a loaded barbell. This was the first thing I noticed as I stumbled into the gymnasium at around 8:45AM in the morning as the technical meeting was taking place.

It seemed like everybody had them!

Being that this was the first time I had watched and participated in a powerlifting meet, it was a very interesting experience to be surrounded by people who obviously spent time with a heavy barbell across their backs and squatted below parallel on a regular basis. I’m sure many of them have encountered some of the same experiences I've had on my quest to get stronger.

The next thing I noticed was how huge some of the competitors were. I felt like Ray Mysterio Jr. in a line up of WWE Superstars. Or Muggsy Bogues standing among other NBA giants. Or a beardless Gimli standing with other members of the Fellowship of the Ring. You get the idea.

03-RAW powerlifting 2012-05-12

I competed in the 90Kg (198lbs) division at the 100% RAW Powerlifting Ontario Championships held in Toronto on May 12, 2012, and I felt like I was the smallest guy in my weight class. Definitely the shortest. These days, my bodyweight fluctuates around 198-200+lbs, and managed to drop down to 193-194lbs for the weigh in.

Throughout the day I was thinking about competing at a lower weight class 82.5Kg (181.5lbs) for my next meet. Even then, the lifters in that division looked pretty damn big as well.

Weight Cut

I only needed to lose 2lbs for the meet, but I wanted to try out a few different methods that athletes use to cut weight for a weigh in to see how it works for me.

Water Loading And Limiting Sodium Intake

Distilled Water and Mrs Dash

Mrs Dash Extra Spicy is NOT Spicy Enough For Asian Taste Buds.

The first method was ‘water loading’. From what I gather, the idea is to drink a lot of water for a few days, piss a lot, then stop drinking water while your body is still in pissing mode. During this period your body is still in urination mode and you excrete more water causing you to lose weight.

Starting on Sunday, May 6, 2012, I started drinking about 2L of distilled water that I purchased from Shoppers Drug Mart everyday up until Wednesday. The volume of water I was drinking didn’t feel too difficult, because I normally sip from a water bottle throughout the day.

I also cut out as much sodium from my diet as possible, sprinkling Mrs. Dash (sodium free) on just about everything I ate for flavoring.

On Thursday, the first day I stopped drinking so much water, I weighed myself on the scale as was exactly 198lbs. It seemed to have worked.

But after eating and sipping on a little bit of water, I went back up to 200lbs. So either I did something wrong, or water loading doesn’t work well for me.

Hot Sweaty Bath (No Pictures)

The next strategy was to sweat out the water from my body to make weight. I have an uncanny ability to sweat profusely so I’m pretty sure this would work.

I’ve read of a few methods to sweat out the weight, ranging from wearing a garbage bag, sauna suit, sitting in a sauna and taking a hot Epsom salt bath.

I went for the bath route simply because it seemed like the most effective and efficient way to sweat without expending energy. I didn't have any Epsom salt so I just bathed in hot water.

On Friday, the day of the weigh in, I filled the bathtub at my hotel with uncomfortable and barely tolerable hot water, and sat in the tub for 10 minutes. At first I couldn’t tell if I was sweating, but after coming out of the tub and wiping myself dry, I could feel the sweat dripping down my forehead, back and chest. I repeated this for a total of 3 times (so 30 minutes in the bath) and went to the weigh in.

The weigh in location was at another hotel. At the hotel, I had to submit the weight for my openers and then weigh in.

I forget the exact number, but I weighed in at 87-88Kg (about 193lbs) putting me well under the 90Kg/198lbs limit.

After weighing in, I put my clothes back on, drank some juice, water and some whey protein + creatine + oatmeal “shake” that doesn’t mix very well and ends up leaving a residue looking like puke.

The Night Before

I went to bed around 11PM, hoping to get a restful night’s sleep before the meet the next day.

This did NOT happen.

I have obstructive sleep apnea which is “characterized by repetitive pauses in breathing during sleep, despite the effort to breathe, and is usually associated with a reduction in blood oxygen saturation” leading to “daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance”.

I usually use a CPAP machine (which prevents me from snoring and allows me to breath smoothly at night) when I sleep, but I did not bring it with me to the hotel.

Big mistake.

I kept on waking myself up because I started to hear and feel myself snoring. This went on all night.

The other thing that kept me up was the noise outside my hotel. The Courtyard Marriot hotel is located right on Yonge Street in Toronto, which I learned is a busy and noisy street, even at night. All night the sound of sirens, car engines and my own snoring kept me awake. I’m not sure how much sleep I actually got, but it was probably a few hours at best.

I “woke up” around 4AM and felt like a spandex-wearing zombie all day during the meet.


01-RAW powerlifting 2012-05-12

I’m generally pretty dazed and confused when I’m in large groups, and the sleep deprivation wasn’t helping.

I arrived at the meet while the technical meeting was taking place where Benjamin Butty (67.5Kg lifter and one half of the Barbarian brothers) was demonstrating the lifts.

My flight did not start lifting until the afternoon, so I spent a lot of time sleeping with my eyes open sitting and waiting, wondering if I needed to arrive here this early in the morning!

Throughout the day I met a few people at the powerlifting meet who I only communicated online through Facebook, Twitter or Fitocracy.

Peter Ciolfitto competed in the 82.5Kg weight class. This was his first powerlifting meet as well. You can read about his experience here.

I also met Craig Hirota who gave me a lot of valuable advice for the past few months. He was helping out at this event, and, if I didn’t know any better, would have thought he was a Japanese pro wrestler because he’s a beast in real life.

I also encountered Sahil Mulla aka FitJerk, who only did the deadlift at the competition. Read his experience leading up to this powerlifting meet here.

At first I couldn't recognize him fully clothes or wearing a singlet, but after his deadlift I suspected it was him. And contrary to his name, he’s a pretty nice guy!

Here he is helping me warm up my right pec:

04-RAW powerlifting 2012-05-12

I regret not talking with more people or having longer conversations, but this sleep deprived state had me feeling pretty screwed up the whole day.

Anyways, onto the lifts!

Warm Up Area

Warming Up

Warming Up in my 2XL Titan Singlet

The warmup area was along the side of the gymnasium. There were 2 platforms. One platform had a nice looking bar, nice squat stands and nice looking plates. Problem was that everything was in Kilograms. I'm used to using weight plates in pounds, so I decided to warm up at the other weightlifting platform. This area had the familiar steel Olympic plates, and a bar with the most aggressive knurling I've ever felt in my life! It could probably be used to file wood or exfoliate the calluses off my hands. No complaints though, I actually liked the feel of the sharp knurling.


I initially had hopes I could get a 1300+ total, but alas the stars did not align that day. I only managed a 542.5Kg/1193.5lbs total.


Opener: 182.5Kg (401.5lbs)

Pretty easy. I read somewhere you should open with a weight that you can do for 3 reps on any given day. I was planning on opening with 200Kg (440lbs), but being that this is my first meet, struggling with some low back pain and not wanting to screw up my first lift, I played it safe.

From the video, you can see my facial expression doesn’t change much.

2nd Attempt: 200Kg (440lbs)

A little more challenging.

3rd Attempt: 220Kg (484lbs)

Weeks earlier I wanted to squat 227.5Kg (500.5lbs). My previous PR was 477.5lbs. As the meet came closer, a 500+lbs squat (23lbs heavier than my personal best) seemed a little too much, so I opted for a doable 484lbs, which is only 6.5lbs above my personal best.

It was a bit of a fight coming out from the bottom, making the squat feel like a good morning. I had to use my lumbar powers and flex my face muscles to squat the barbell up.

Thank you mysterious stranger(s) for yelling at me and cheering me on!

Bench Press

Opener: 140Kg (308lbs)

So, this is where I should have paid attention at the 8:45AM technical meeting.

Anyways, for some reason, I was expecting the command “Start” from the referee before lowering the bar to my chest.

So for my first attempt, I unracked the bar and WAITED for someone to tell me to start. After about 2-3 seconds of holding the bar, I heard someone say “whenever you’re ready” so I lowered the bar.

Turns out holding the bar sapped my strength. Yeah I missed that first bench. Dammit.

2nd Attempt: 140Kg (308lbs)

Got it the second time around. Felt more difficult than I expected however.

3rd Attempt: 145Kg (319lbs)

Missed the last one at 145Kg. I had a pretty good feeling I would not make this weight.


Opener: 182.5Kg (401.5lbs)

I had to leave early because I had to be on a Greyhound bus bound for Kitchener at 7PM.

At this point it was already past 5PM, and I would need to change, wait for a bus to the subway station, and take a subway to the Greyhound bus terminal.

I wanted to make sure that I did not miss my opener, so I lowered it from 210Kg (462lbs) to something I normally warm up with.

On top of that, my lower back hasn't been feeling great for the past few weeks. It felt fine during and after squat, but after a few warmup sets of deadlifts I could feel my lower back start to ache.

Anyways, to make sure I did not miss my bus home, I passed on the 2nd and 3rd attempts at the deadlift.

A Few Things I Learned

  • My rack height is 11 for the squat, and 12 for the bench press (they didn’t have my rack height at first, so they initially set it at some higher number. I remember one of the spotters gradually lowering the height of the rack during my attempts)
  • Listen during the technical meeting!
  • Those Eleiko plates are deceptively heavy. They look to be almost half as thin as my York Olympic plates, but weigh much more.

For My Next Meet

  • Better preparation
  • Bring more food
  • Bring ear plugs and my CPAP machine
  • Bring a scale to weigh myself at the hotel
  • Take more pictures
  • Lose body fat and get leaner
  • Repair my lower back and bring up my deadlift numbers
  • Know my warmup numbers in kilograms
  • Plan to leave the next day, rather than the night of the meet

For those of you thinking about competing...get out of your comfort zone and do something epic. At the very least, you'll gain some real life experience points.

Big thanks to Barry McEvoy for organizing this event, and all the volunteers who helped make this happen.

Looking forward to suiting up and lifting on the platform again.

Winifred Pristell (AKA "Heavy Metal") is 70 years-young, great-grandmother of 3, with fingers twisted by arthritis who benches, squats and deadlifts more weight than most guys I've seen in the gym:

At an age where most people have physically and mentally deteriorated with "old age", Winifred Pristell is actually getting STRONGER.



I experimented with power cleaning the bar for over head press and front squats this week.

I felt way more explosive doing the press & front squat AFTER I cleaned the bar as opposed to lifting it off the rack. It actually felt a lot easier. And for a couple of days, my traps were sore as hell.

I got this idea from Zach Even-Esh's blog. He wrote:

I remember when I trained at Diamond Gym & began power cleaning the bar from the ground before every set of military presses and my back, traps, shoulders and arms got seriously THICK in a very short time period.

That sound's like a pretty damn good idea! It also seems like a manlier way to lift weights.

Cleaning the Bar for the Front Squat


front squat

Elbows Pointed Forward

For the front squat, getting the bar in position is the same as a regular power clean. ie. the bar will be racked on your front deltoids with your elbows raised & pointed forward.

Cleaning the Bar for the Over Head Press

Cleaning the bar to press

Elbows Pointed Down

Cleaning the bar for the over head press is different compared to cleaning the bar for the front squat (at least for me). My press my grip is wider than I normally use for power cleans, so I needed to clean the bar with a wider grip.

Also, because I'm pressing it up, I don't rack with my elbows up. I rack it with my elbows down, and I'm in a position where I'm ready to press the bar over my head.

It looks something like this (note this is not me; it's some strong dude from Singapore):

I won't be cleaning the bar for overhead presses during intensity days (where I try to hit a 1,2 or 3 rep max). But for volume (5x5) & recover days (3x5) I will.

Anyways, enough about cleaning and check out these links:

Keep lifting, keep progressing & have a great weekend!