6 yrs of powerlifting competition, what I might've done differently

Since I started competing in powerlifting again in 2008, I've improved my raw total 115 lbs over the past 6 years.  Even though that improvement is less than some lifters make in 6 months of lifting, I'm still satisfied that it represents significant progress over that period.

I don't know how to weight each of the following constraints or conditions but my gut feeling is that some of them work against each other.

  • In 2008 I was not starting from a 'newbie' or inexperienced beginning.  I had competed for 4 years and lifted for 10 years in my teens and twenties.
  • When I posted a 1340 lb total in March 2008, I weighed 285.  When I posted my best total to date, 1455 lbs,  in June 2013, I weighed 245 lbs.  
  • In March 2008, I was 41 years old.  In June 2013, I was 46 years old.
Throughout the period from 2008 to the present, I have either been losing weight or maintaining weight.  There hasn't been a period where I've consciously trained and slowly allowed weight gain to support recovery and strength building.  There was a short period where I gained about 20 lbs from 235 to 255 but it wasn't to support training, it was simply because I started eating everything I could reach.  Just getting fatter didn't have much impact on my training.

Looking back, I probably could've ended up further ahead if I had thought to lose all the weight right away, maintain a new settling point and then slowly gained weight to support my training.  Theoretically, I could've gone from 285 to 210 or so and then after a maintenance period of 6 months to a year, allowed myself to gain weight slowly until I was back at the 235-240 area.  It's generally much easier to build strength while one can support recovery with slight surplus in macro-nutrients  yet I've allowed myself very few time periods where I've been in that position.

I suspect trying to accomplish two objectives that don't support each other (lose weight/gain strength) has probably slowed my progress.  However, I initially started competing again because I used the competitions as motivation to train.  The training and the dietary discipline that came with it created the environment that helped me lose weight.  And it has been fun to compete regularly and meet people so I don't regret the experiences a bit.  

Taking the long-term approach of getting my weight under control first and then concentrating on strength development represents a delayed-gratification approach (with respect to competitive powerlifting goals).  Unfortunately I've always been much more of an instant gratification person.  I'm also an emotional eater, always have been.  I'm not sure which came first but the seem to be fairly closely tied.

If I decide to do take the delayed-gratification approach to hitting future strength PRs, it'll probably be a two-year process, one year to cut down and maintain and another year to slowly gain some of the weight back.  Maybe it'll be a good time to do that next year so that if the process works, I'll be ready to set some new lifetime PR's when I turn 50 and move into next age group division.

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