2012 OPA Classic Provincials meet report

I started this "raw" period of my powerlifting training in August 2010 after I had finished the 2010 Niagara Open competing as an equipped lifter.  I switched to raw training for two reasons.  One, I had tweaked my shoulder pretty good from handling over-max weights in a bench shirt.  Two, I had grown disgusted with my gear because at the Niagara meet in 2010, I lifted as a 220 lb lifter.  The equipment I wore was my gear that I used when I competed as a 242 lb lifter at the Nationals earlier in the year.  One's bodyweight/body girths greatly affect how the gear works for a lifter.  The idea that I would need multiple sets of gear depending on my bodyweight was simply too much expense and complexity for me to want to manage so I decided back in August 2010 that I would train and compete raw from then on.

My first raw meet was the Ontario Powerlifting Association (OPA) Provincials in January 2011.  Since the CPU or any of its provincial affiliates had not yet adopted a raw division, I made the decision to lift in accordance with the USAPL's raw rules.  These rules would later be standardized when the IPF and subsequently the CPU adopted what is now known as the "Classic" division.  At that meet in January 2011, since I was lifting raw against other geared lifters, I didn't bother with the added effort of cutting weight. I lifted at my 'walking around weight' of that day, 113.6 kgs.  I ended up lifting 205/140/272.5 kgs (sq/bp/dl) for a total of 617.5 kgs. My bench press was fairly conservative but my shoulder hurt enough that I wasn't able to train it very often and as a result probably left 5 kgs on the platform.  My squat had a pretty good sticking point that I've only recently been able to correct through form improvements and my deadlift was a second attempt lift, I tried 280 but it remained welded to the earth.
My 3rd attempt squat of 205 kgs from the 2011 Provincials

My 3rd attempt bench press of 140 kgs from the 2011 Provincials

Fast forward to today, December 16, 2012.  Just about two years after my raw training period began.  Over that period I've made some progress, experienced my shoulder healing (finally), had some stalls, and very lately, learned how to more effectively squat.  This meet provided the perfect opportunity to measure my progress since I did not intend to cut weight and coincidentally weighed in at nearly the same weight, 112.9 kgs.

My goals for this meet were to squat 215 kgs, bench 155 kgs, and deadlift 280 kgs.  If I were to hit all of those numbers, my 650 kg total would be an 32.5 kg improvement.  Not an earth shattering amount of progress over a two year period but progress nonetheless.  And while I may not be an especially strong lifter, I have been at it for a long time so it's harder and harder to find those steep progress slopes that we all enjoyed when we first started lifting.

My training had been going well and I deliberately resisted the urge to test my maxes in the gym.  Instead I concentrated on my form improvements and stayed mostly with sets of 3 or more reps.  I only went as high as 455 for a couple singles prior to this meet and they were definitely sub-maximal.  Because I implemented squat form improvements relatively recently, I noticed that I was making progress almost workout to workout.  I had every expectation that I would finally hit a 215 kg squat.

My warm up sets felt great and as a result, I opted to skip my last warmup, a single with 405.  While I wouldn't normally jump from 365 to 440 in the gym in training, I felt very good and I decided there was really no good reason for the single with 405.  My intuition was good as the opener not only felt very light on my back when I walked it out, I squatted it easily too.  My second with 210 kgs was only a bit more difficult--the bar rolled up my back a tiny bit--but I had no problem controlling it.  Since my original plan was to get the 215 done with and get a lifetime raw PR, I stuck with it and took 215 for my third.  As it turns out, I probably had 220 or even 225 in me as the 215 was an easier lift than the 210.  While I was lifting it, I felt like I cut my depth a good 2" higher than my first two, overly deep attempts but the video shows  that I did not, if anything, I may have gone even deeper.  While it's nice to have that reserve, the extra depth is unnecessary and I'll need to work on building the proprioception necessary to squat to just below legal depth.

first attempt, 200 kgs

second attempt 210 kgs

third attempt 215 kgs, lifetime raw PR.  Previous raw PR of 470 lbs was set in 2008 when I weighed in at 116.4 kgs.

After hitting that PR in the squat, I was looking forward to the bench press.  I again took an abbreviated warm up since I felt strong and fast from the beginning.  My opener of 142.5 kgs was a weight that I had finished with at previous meets.  Nonetheless, it was smooth and fast.  I went to 150 kgs for my second attempt.  Prior to today, I would've had to go back to March of 2008 when I last had as much weight in my hands for a raw bench attempt at a meet.  Back in 2008 I weighed 275 lbs as I was still coming down from my obese, 299lb self.  The 150 kg lift was smooth and steady and I felt like I had enough to give 155 kgs an honest effort.  155 kgs or 341 lbs would represent a 1 lb all time raw PR so it was a number I had targeted prior to this competition.  As it turned out, 155 kgs was probably 2-3 kgs too much as it stalled before I could muster enough tricep power to push it to lockout.  The struggle also cramped up my lower back enough that it took a few minutes before I could catch my breath.  I thought for a second that it might impact my deadlift but thankfully it loosened up.

first attempt bench, 142.5 kgs

second attempt bench, 150 kgs

third attempt bench, 155 kgs, missed it 

On to the deadlifts, I was feeling pretty good even with the miss at 155 kgs since the 150 kg bench represented a 7.5 kg improvement over my best raw bench since January 2011.  I took my customary 1 repetition deadlift warmup (405x1) and I was ready to go.  My opener of 260 kgs was routine so I jumped to 280 kgs.  It was a weight that I lifted back in June 2012.  At that meet, I did cut weight and despite being affected adversely, still managed to grind out a 280 kg deadlift.  Because I had been concentrating on my squat this training period, I wasn't looking for any improvements in the deadlift.  280 kgs was my goal for this meet, if anything, I wanted to pull it faster than I did last June.

The 280 kgs indeed ended up being pulled faster than last June but my third attempt with 290 remained welded to the earth.   Still, the 280 meant I had a total of 645 kgs, a 27.5 kg improvement over my initial results from January 2011.  As an added bonus, I won a first place medal for the 40-49 age, 120 kg class and because two other 40-49 age group lifters competed in the open division, I ended up winning the Best Lifter medal for the 40-49 age group.  It was more of being in the right place at the right time than being the strongest but someone's gotta win the medals and I wouldn't want to disrespect any other competitors that would've been happy to win one.  I won't go promoting myself as a provincial champion but I will post pictures of the medals....lol

lifting summary:

Squat:  135x5, 225x5, add belt, 315x3, 365x1, competition, 440x1, 463x1, 474x1 PR
Bench Press:  135x8, 225x5, 255x2, 275x1, competition, 314x1, 330x1, 341x0
Deadlift:  405x1, competition, 573x1, 617x1, 639x1

Total, 645 kgs at 112.9 kgs, PR total.

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