USAPL MI Ironworks Open VIII Meet Report

Background and Training

  • 5’9″ – 202 lbs., 25 years old
  • 5th USAPL Meet
  • Training with Strength Strength since May 2011, and Advanced Starting Strength since June 2012
  • 5RM – Squat 367.5 lb., Bench 245 lb., Deadlift 387.5 lb.

Meet Prep

Stayed the night at a hotel in Midland, MI before the meet. Since I weighed over 198, I decided to just not worry about cutting, and went out to dinner at Logan’s and had a delicious steak and shrimp beforehand.

The week before, I dropped all of my lifts to 80%, and did not train on the Wednesday or Thursday before the meet (with my normal training schedule being T/Th/Sat).


Squat (lb.)

  • 363.75
  • 407
  • 424.25

Bench (lb.)

  • 242.5
  • 281
  • 286.5

Deadlift (lb.)

  • 391.25
  • 440.75
  • 451.75


Took 3rd place out of 6 lifters in the 220lb. Raw Open class.

All new competition PRs

  • Squat (405 => 424)
  • Bench (281 => 286)
  • Deadlift (435 => 452)

Also, as I competed in this same meet last year, my totals from the last year and this year:

  • Squat (347 => 424)
  • Bench (242.5 => 286)
  • Deadlift (363.75 => 452)


I wore Original Blue Rehband Knee Sleeves for training in this cycle, and they help with tightness in the knees. For a raw lifter, they can help with the soreness you can get from heavy squats, but they don’t do anything to add poundage to your lifts. I would not wear them for deadlifts, as they get in the way.

Purchased a set of Adidas Adipowers (from using Chucks before) for this training cycle, which helped my ability to hit depth for squats. As expensive as they are, I definitely recommend them in being able to perform squats well, although I would not wear them for deadlifts. The main benefit is two-fold: Gives you a very solid base to squat for that Chucks don’t provide, and give you a slight arch in your heel to make reaching for depth easier.

For selecting all of my attempts, Generally rounding down, I use

  • My 5RM from training
  • As small as possible competition PR
  • Calculated max

I will be competing Nov. 3rd at the MI State Raw & Equipped Championships, and will deload everything and keep consistent with using Adv. SS with some changes, as it’s been working well for me in my training.

Also, I want to thank both Dave for competing at his first meet, and Liz for coming to support the two of us!


USAPL MI Push/Pull 2012 Meet Report

Background and Training

  • 5’9″, 199.6 lbs., 25 years old
  • 4th USAPL Meet.
  • Been training with Starting Strength since May 2011

Meet Prep

Stayed the night before at a hotel, still a choice I highly recommend, unless located very close to the location of the meet. Chose not to eat the night before and the morning like before to try and weigh in at 198. Weighed in at 199.6 and decided to just compete at 220.


Bench (kg/lb)

  • 110 (242.5)
  • 127.5 (281)
  • 135 (296) (no lift)

Deadlift (kg/lb)

  • 172.5 (380)
  • 195 (429)
  • 197.5 (435.25)


Ended up with new competition PRs

  • Bench 275 -> 281
  • Deadlift 425 -> 435

Took first place at 220 Raw (out of 1, so whatever)


  • Not one of my better meets. I’ve felt weaker in the gym, and I think I let that carry into my performance.
  • I had recently bench pressed 295 touch-and-go without too much trouble, so I was too greedy with my bench press attempts. Lesson learned: If in doubt, make a smaller attempt.
  • On the other side, I can probably make greater attempts with my deadlift. I thought I struggled more with the second attempt, so I only increased by 2.5 kilos, could have probably moved up by more.
  • I purchased a set of Crain Deadlift shoes¬†via Craig Hirota, but didn’t notice much of a different in lifting with them versus lifting in chucks.
  • Next meet will be the Smitty’s Ironworks Open in Aug. 4th.
  • Training wise, I’ll be moving onto the Advanced Novice Starting Strength program, and adding in heavy DB holds (for grip) and planks (for core strength). For bench, I will be pausing the first of each of my reps to train for the pause in the meet.

EliteFTS Learn to Train 4 Seminar Recap

I traveled to London, OH over the weekend to attend the EFS LTT4 seminar, wanted to write up my experience.

In terms of the gym, the gym was really nice, but it seemed surprisingly crowded. I thought there would be more space for movement, but it seemed like there were a lot of racks and other machines to work with. There must have been a hundred different types of bars you could use.

The coaches that spoke were:

Jeremy Frey:

  • Dropoff in power for static stretching before working out is minimal, go ahead and do it if you need it
  • Working with someone that can’t do a single push-up? Use dumbbell work.

John Meadows:

  • mTor is what turns on protein synthesis (like turning on the keys to a car, but doesn’t make it drive)
  • Do not do post-lifting cardio if you are trying to build muscle, as it turns of mTor
  • White rice is a very good fast acting carb

Steve Pulcinella:

  • Really didn’t have anything very substantial, but by far the funniest speaker there, and probably one of the most entertaining speakers ever.
  • Triangle of domination was hilarious

Chad Smith:

  • As you get stronger, you have to put more of a premium on recovery
  • In-season for sports: Don’t use a lot of exercise variation

CJ Murphy:

  • Strongman training is great functional strength
  • Generally cannot compete well in both strongman and powerlifting at same time: Pick one.
  • For strongman meets and farmer’s walks: ¬†Don’t do a lot of turning while carrying heavy loads, walk in straight lines

Josh Bryant:

  • Single best assistance move for raw squats: Pause squats
  • Dips have a great transfer to overhead press

As it was about 95 degrees outside in London, OH, it was hot enough in the gym that I was constantly sweating, especially during the training sessions.

In terms of any kind of swag, I received a shirt, blender bottle, and free Spike energy drinks, protein bars, protein powder, and more.

In the two days, each day would have the morning consisting of lecture, and the afternoon being coaching on different lifts depending on the day. On Friday, it was bench, strongman, and rehab, and on Saturday, it was squat and deadlift.

Dave Kirschen coaching (I am in the FSU shirt)

For my coaching, I had Dave Kirschen as my main coach, in what I would consider being one of the novice/intermediate groups (us being matched up based on our raw squat, bench, and deadlift). I didn’t have too many cues or changes that I needed to make for my lifts in particular (some people needed to have everything torn apart and start over).


Dave Kirschen had us work up to a PR on benches (we didn’t work up to PRs on anything else, which i don’t really understand) I was able to set a 20 lb. PR on my bench by learning how to activate my lats and bring in my elbows more, so small things like that can really help.


We had Steve Pulcinella work with us on the Axle Clean and Press, and had all of us work up to 210 lb. for singles. A little bit more complex than it looks, especially at heavier weights.


Dave had everyone start with box squats (or basically exaggerated cues of free squat). Being my first time, I struggled with this for a few sets, but eventually understood it. A big change, for those who haven’t done box squats before, is that you will really feel like you are sitting back, as to where you would fall back if the box were not there. Dave mentioned that my free squat form was just fine, so no changes to need to make there.


The only real tips that we got as a group were to check whether we would like sumo or conventional deadlift. We would try each one, and move from there. After just a few reps, it was clear I pull with a conventional deadlift.

At the end, Dave Tate had a quick speech about business values (in a sense of being a trainer or owning a gym), which I ended up leaving early since I don’t have any interest in either.

As to whether I would recommend it, I think it was definitely a good trip. Part of the issue in getting a totally effective coaching period is that you need to be in a middle ground in needing just a few things to fix in your form (you could either be in a case where everything had to be fixed and would get overwhelmed, or there was nothing to change, and you were just confirming you were doing things right). I ended up paying about $500 for the entire trip when you consider travel and lodging.

TL;DR; – Went to the EliteFTS Learn to Train 4 seminar over the weekend. Some good stuff, set a new bench PR for 295 lb. at 200 lb. BW, was a good experience overall.