RPS/TPS Power Challenge 2015 by: Kevin Cann
A couple of weeks ago, on October 17th, I competed in my first ever powerlifting meet. I am 32 years old and have played sports my entire life. Those that do not think powerlifting is a sport, think again.
It is a sport that not only challenges you physically, but mentally in a bunch of ways as well.
My training for the meet was 20 weeks. The first 8 weeks I spent with Murph basically learning to lift. This may seem odd for someone that has spent nearly his entire life in the gym as an athlete and as a coach, but lifting to get better at a particular sport and lifting as a sport are two entirely different things.
Hell, I hadn’t even done a barbell bench press in years and the bench pressing I did in my youth did not include arching and leg drive. I had never used chains and bands before in my life. I even got stuck in my belt the first time I wore it. It was frustrating to be a beginner at something for the first time in a really long time.
In June Boris Sheiko came to TPS to deliver his first seminar on American soil.
I enjoyed this seminar so much I decided to jump right into a Sheiko program a little more than 12 weeks out from the competition. For those of you not familiar with Sheiko, this means I did a ridiculous amount of volume. The final 4 weeks of my prep cycle included roughly 1,000 competitive lifts.
I was incredibly sore throughout the first few weeks of running this high volume program even though the weight is kept lighter to really focus on maximizing technique. I began the prep cycle pulling sumo. This was better for me at the time as I was in a better position to pull than my conventional deadlift. However, a few weeks into the cycle I had this nagging adductor strain.
I would wrap my leg in a Spud Inc. Mummy band and after a week or 2 the pain subsided. This was only temporary however, and the pain came back tenfold. This time around it began to negatively affect my squat. I started cutting my squat high to avoid the pain. This became a bad habit that carried on even after my adductor issue cleared up.
I decided to look at my warm-up routine and make adjustments to help be better survive the program. I began doing more targeted tissue work for each lift. Casually rolling over the foam roller and cycling through some random stretches just was not cutting it for me.
I came up with the following:
I performed a QL smash every training day. My QL tends to get tight and beating this tissue up I knew would help me arch more in the bench press. It definitely worked. I was pretty flat when I started and if you see my bench press now I have a pretty big arch.
For squats my tissue work and stretching included the following:
Glute smash and floss with a lacrosse ball
Rolling my quads with a barbell (my quads were super tight and I was guessing this was a big cause to my knees caving in on the squat)
Flossing my suprapatella
Lateral hip banded distraction
Frontal plane rocking banded distraction
Bench Press Mobility:
Rotator Cuff smash and floss
Shoulder capsule mobilizations with a kettlebell
Banded internal rotation distraction
Armpit lat smash (I had this nasty ball of tight tissue under my left armpit. This one was not fun)
Rolled my adductors with a barbell
Flossed my distal adductors with a lacrosse ball
High hamstring smash and floss
Hip hinge banded distraction
This worked extremely well for everything but my adductors. They just could not recover while doing high volume deadlifting. In hindsight I should have backed off for a week or two to let them recover, but I didn’t.
This only led to them getting worse.
Four weeks out from the competition they hurt so bad that I could not even get down to the bar. Conventional deadlifts did not hurt at all, so I decided to perform my test using the conventional deadlift. I ended up hitting a 30lb PR and decided I was pulling conventional in the meet.
Changing pulling style four weeks out is probably not the smartest thing, but neither is pulling injured. I continued to hammer the mobility before each training session and with the break from sumo pulling I felt awesome. I had a massage about two weeks out from Jen, who is awesome by the way, and she even said she was surprised by how good of shape I was in considering the volume of training.
The day of the meet I got to the Everett Rec Center around 9:00am to cheer on the TPS girls that were competing. I stuffed my face with donuts and had enough coffee and energy drinks to give me a heart attack. At 2:20pm I walked onto the platform to attempt my first squat.
I did not feel nervous at all, but ended up cutting my first attempt a mile high. Obviously the nerves got to me. I regrouped and with squat commands from Murph hit my next two squats. Burying the depth will definitely be the motto of my next training cycle.
After squats I had a long break until I benched due to being in a later flight. This was the hardest part of the competition, the breaks. It was mentally draining to get yourself mentally and physically prepared to lift every 2-3 hours. Russ really helped me out here with the timing of warm-ups.
Bench felt really good. Every training session with Murph he slows us down out the rack and makes us “settle” the weight into our lats. This really paid off on meet day. There was no risk of jumping a bench command and I was patient and relaxed on the bench and went 3 for 3 here.
The last lift of the day was the deadlift. By this point I was exhausted. Not physically exhausted, but mentally exhausted. I mustered through it and went 3 for 3 and even hit a 5lb PR on my third attempt. All in all it was a successful day as I went 8/9 on my lifts.
My day was a success because I had quality coaching from Russ and Murph. It was crazy to see people taking 80% or higher of their 1RM for 3 reps warming up for the deadlifts. Also, helping me selective my weight for my lifts was very important. I saw so many people open at heavier weights and bomb on their lifts. I feel TPS really stood out at the meet for the success of all of the lifters.
I enjoyed this experience so much I am already looking forward to the next one. I will be working with Boris Sheiko leading up to the next meet and as always Murph and Russ.
With those 3 in my corner I expect some big gains in the future.