Lodrina Cherne of TeamTPS just competed at the USAPL National Championships in the equipped division.
Lo took 4th place in a stacked 57kg class and hit a triple bodyweight squat of 386 pounds!
She gave me an update a few days before the meet.
Here it is in her own words:
I am competing in my first equipped (single ply) national championship this May in Colorado with USAPL. I have had a very quick introduction to equipped lifting and continue to learn about suits, shirts, technique, and training with every single session.
Following are some of the questions I’ve gotten about my experience so far training equipped:
What suits, shirts, and wraps did you get?
Different types of equipment have certain tricks to using them. By using the same suits and shirts that my training partners are using, including at least 2 pairs of matching knee wraps, I was well prepared to learn from others around me who’ve had success with the same equipment on the platform. Speaking of the platform, I also made sure my equipment would be legal in the federation where I’d be competing.
How hard is it to squeeze yourself into the equipment?
One thing I was aware of before starting this journey is the difficulty of starting with aggressive, tight equipment. Different styles and fits can accommodate all levels of strength and loose equipment with mild support can be a great starting point. Because of my competition level raw, I decided to go on the tighter side with fit.
How difficult/painful is it?
I knew tight equipment would increase the difficulty of my learning curve and have tried to keep patience in mind with every session and the overall training cycle. Even knowing this, the pain and frustration from breaking in tight equipment is hard to put into words. Again, this was not mandatory for equipped lifting but a byproduct of my decision to go tight and the amount of time and effort I was committed to putting into making it work.
What helped to make the transition? Is it worth it?
Equipped powerlifting is not a sport you can do alone. I’ve tried to over communicate with my coach Steve Goggins, asked for help from training partners, and sought out those with proven success in meets to show me what works.
Knowing that this would be a big time commitment was also key. A heavy suit or shirt day might take an extra hour or two; ordering, breaking in, and altering my squat suit happened over months.
After lots of preparation, the best part has been handling up to 30% more weight than I’d normally be handling raw and handling heavy weight is fun! This is my third equipped meet, since I keep coming back for more you could say it’s worthwhile!
I can’t say how proud I am of Lodrina and all of our athletes.
TeamTPS is full of people to watch in the strength sports.
Below is Zach’s first submission for the site.
Taking a Step Back and Kicking the Ego
When I began powerlifting two and a half years ago, one of the first things I learned was that ego has no place in the gym. I recall walking into my college gym one day after a summer of bodybuilding, putting 335 pounds on the bar thinking I was hot shit, and asking a random guy who looked like he had an idea of what he was doing for a spot. I told him to tap me on the shoulder if I wasn’t hitting depth and proceeded to squat three reps. He tapped me on the shoulder three times. Turns out I was a quarter-squatter and he was the powerlifter that was going to change my life.
That day made me reevaluate all of my training to that point, and rethink all of my training moving forward. I stripped the bar down and spent weeks slowly adding plates, working myself back up to a point where I could squat the same weight to perfect depth. It was difficult, mainly because I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t as strong as I’d thought I was. But it’s paid off in spades. A couple of years later, I now open with a triple bodyweight squat in competition and have never been red-lighted for depth in a federation that’s notoriously strict with their calls.
I’m not one to make sweeping generalizations but, in this case, I’m pretty sure I’m right.
Everybody has bad days.
Nobody is going to walk into the gym, up to the bar, and be perfect every single time. It’s just not possible. Unfortunately, somewhere in the past few years I’d managed to forget that. I began to re-develop the ego I’d worked so hard to suppress in my novice days.
My training has suffered as a result.
The last month has been an incredibly stressful one for me. I’ve had one bad day after another bad day after another, and they’ve carried over into the gym.
My ego was nearly incapable of handling it.
I began pushing myself harder than my programming suggested because I couldn’t accept the numbers I was hitting in training. Considering my coach programs for me on an RPE scale, that was probably the worst possible thing I could have been doing.
If I am told to hit a top single at RPE 8 and I decide to grind out a 10 instead, I’ve failed for that day.
Yet, that’s exactly what I was doing every day. I couldn’t accept that I wasn’t as strong as I thought I was. It was a recipe for disaster.
I began to accumulate an ungodly amount of fatigue. I’d wake up in the morning and be unable to walk properly for hours. My joints ached worse than those of a geriatric arthritic on a rainy day. Old injuries began popping back up and basic movements resulted in significant pain. And then I’d lift poorly again, and be angry that I lifted poorly, which would lead to more stress. Which led to pushing harder and accumulating more fatigue.
Which led to more stress.
Which led to more fatigue.
Which led to more stress.
On and on and on in a vicious cycle.
Finally, everything blew up in one big, beautiful disaster of a day in which I failed twice to hit my opening squat from the Arnold Classic—a lift that should have, by all means, been easy.
After weeks of hating myself every day I underperformed in the gym, a teammate finally convinced me to just trust the program. If I woke up one day after three hours of sleep, bleary eyed and feeling like I’d been kicked in the head by a horse, I still went in and just lifted what I could.
If 80% of my 1RM felt like an RPE 8, I’d call it and do my back off sets as programmed.
Suddenly, I started seeing progress. In the past two weeks, I’ve seen more consistent progress on my bench than ever before. My deadlift technique is finally starting to click, and I’m managing to pick out why my squat has been suffering and start fixing it.
It still grates at me a little that I don’t live up to my own expectations every single day I’m in the gym, but it’s gotten much easier to manage. This past month and a half alone has been the biggest reminder of that initial lesson I was taught by that random powerlifter from college.
The only things an ego will end up getting you in powerlifting are injuries, frustration, and disappointment.
Accepting that bad days happen and adjusting my training accordingly has allowed me to recover more soundly and focus on the little things that need fixing. I can be happier about small successes like technique PRs or having no more pain when I complete a lift.
Most importantly, it’s allowed me to start having fun in the gym again and enjoy the process instead of treating it like just another boring day at work.
(Sets x Reps @ Weight; All Weight in LBS)
Squat with Belt
1 rep @ RPE 8 (450)
6 sets of 5 reps @ 375
5×1 @ 305
Neutral Grip OHP
Deadlift with Belt
1 rep @ RPE 8 (515)
Bench with 2 Count Pause
1 rep @ RPE 8 (305 @ 7.5)
4 reps @ RPE 9 (285)
2×4 @ -5% (270)
2ct Beltless Pause Squats
1 rep @ RPE 8 (405)
Touch and Go Bench
1 rep @ RPE 8 (315)
8 reps @ RPE 10 (270)
2×8 @ -5% (255)
2ct Beltless Pause Deadlifts
1 rep @ RPE 8 (455)
4 reps @ RPE 9 (425)
2×4 @ -5% (chose not to do because of lower back pain)
Pin Press (Chest Level)
1 rep @ RPE 8 (305)
4 reps @ RPE 9 (285)
2×4 @ -5% (270)
Sumo Stance Stiff Leg Deadlifts