Meet Report: 2016 Niagara Open, first meet as a M2 lifter, first meet as a 93 kg lifter

Back in November, I made the decision that my next competition (and all those thereafter) would be as a 93 kg lifter.  At that time, my "walking around weight" was between 240 and 250 lbs.  To make the 105 kg weight class, I would usually have to diet for about a month and then do a 4-6 lb water cut.  After a lackluster performance coupled with some nagging back pain, I decided that carrying around extra weight wasn't doing my health or my lifting any good.  The only challenge was, I hadn't been anywhere near 205 lbs since the mid-90's.  Losing upwards of 35 lbs was going to be a long process.

For some reason, I have been exceptionally motivated by this goal and I have been able to maintain a calorie restricted diet since mid-November 2015 with the only notable exceptions being the Christmas/New Year period and two trips to Las Vegas.  My weight loss has been a pretty consistent 1 lb per week, slower than I would've liked but I chalk that up to a combination of a more sedentary lifestyle than when I was in my late 20's and not being in my 20's or 30's anymore.

Back when I signed up for the 2016 Niagara Open, I thought the qualification process for the Ontario Powerlifting Association Provincial Championships still required one to post a qualifying total in the weight class one intends to compete.  Since I had never lifted as a 93 kg weight class lifter, this meant I'd need to lift as a 93 kg lifter to avoid doing another meet before Provincials in November 2016.  With local meets filling up so fast in Ontario, I didn't want to leave it to chance.  I later found out, about a month out from the meet, that Ontario had indeed decided to follow the qualifying procedure used for Nationals, that is, once one posts a qualifying total in one weight class, that total qualifies one to enter Nationals at any weight class, higher or lower.   By this time, I was already committed to the idea of lifting as a 93 kg lifter so I decided to stick to the plan.

The only challenge was my weight.  A month out from the meet, my bodyweight was still hovering between 215 and 217 and I had one more trip to Las Vegas.  The morning of my flight to Las Vegas on April 14th, I was 215.5 lbs.  I flew back on the 20th and when I woke up on the 21st, my weight was a water-logged 231.5.  I was back down to 219 lbs six days later but that still put me 14 lbs over the 205 lb/93 kg wt class limit only 17 days out.  At this point, I knew I could still make weight but the water cut needed was going to be drastic enough that it would most definitely affect my performance. This combined with the basic structure of my training from December to the present which was designed more to preserving muscle mass while dieting than building and peaking strength meant that I really had zero expectations in terms of actually lifting anything that would result in a Wilks score close to what I had achieved in the past.

The day before my weigh-in, I was 213 lbs.  I still had 8 lbs to go but felt pretty confident that a water cut would accomplish the task.  I was following a fairly standard protocol of eating "low residue" foods the last week, a water loading period, and then no water or food for the last 36 hrs.  I also spent about an hour in the steam room at a local YMCA to lose the last 3 lbs of water the morning of weigh-in day.  When I weighed in at approximately 1 pm on May 14th, I was 92.4 kgs or 203.7 lbs.  I immediately starting downing pedialyte and other fluids and eating easily digestible carbs.  The first phase of my plan was completed.

Surprisingly, after getting in some food and water, I was feeling about a thousand percent better than I did just before the weigh-in.  I was worried that I would suffer some cramping but I hoped that by lowering my openers to very low numbers, that I'd be able to gut out even a worst case scenario situation.  Although I don't ever intend to have to cut that much weight and lift on the same day ever again, I saw this situation as a unique opportunity to see what effect it would have on my lifting.

I set my openers at 180 kgs in the squat, 130 kgs in the bench press, and 220 kgs in the deadlift.  Just my openers would easily surpass the M2 qualifying total required for the 93 kg weight class, so if the OPA hadn't changed their Provincial qualifying procedure, I still had quite a bit of wriggle room in case disaster struck and I needed to change openers during warm ups.  Fortunately, aside from some manageable quad cramps and my calves wanting to cramp, squat warm ups went well.  One benefit of opening 30 kgs lighter than I had in the past is an even fewer number of warm up sets.  Just the ticket since I felt like I had limited energy in reserve due to the short period I had to try to re-hydrate and re-fuel.

All three squats went very well and I even probably left 5 or even 10 kgs on the platform.

First attempt, 180 kgs, good lift

Second attempt, 190 kgs, good lift

Third attempt, 200 kgs, good lift

Bench presses went about according to expectations, my opener with 130 kgs was easy, my second with 140 kgs was slow and had a weird bobble at lockout when my left elbow collapsed momentarily at full extension.  I got three whites even though the bar oscillated at lockout so I considered that fortunate.  My third at 145 kgs wasn't close.  This was the first lift where I really noticed the effects of the water cut.

First attempt, 130 kgs, good lift

Second attempt, 140 kgs, good lift

Third attempt, 145 kgs, no lift

At this point, I suffered cramping in both of my sartorius muscles.  Each time it occurred when I was pulling off my knee sleeves.  Due to the sartorius' attachment both below the knee and above the hip, it was in a unique position to help power the contortion needed to pull a knee sleeve off the end of the foot.  However it was used, it hurts like heck when it cramps up.  Sitting down, the attachment around the knee cramped hard.  When I tried to stand up, it cramped up towards the origin--even more painful.  For about a minute I was worried I wouldn't be able to deadlift or if I could, I'd need to reduce my opener to the bare minimum I needed for the 477.5 kg total that I didn't really need to qualify for provincials.  Luckily, the cramps subsided and I kept my opener at the already much lighter than usual 220 kgs.

My first two deadlifts went well.  I hadn't been training the deadlift heavy since Provincials in order to let some back pain resolve itself.  It had been well over a year since I last deadlifted over 600 lbs in competition due to pain and a general lack of power.  As a result, I hadn't used anything over 495 lbs in the deadlift in order to give my back a chance to heal.  I really had no expectations here.  I had planned to take 260 kgs as my third attempt, which would've been a stretch, but I realized that if I could pull 267.5 kgs, I could move into third place.  Just a couple years ago, that would've been less than my normal second attempt at a meet but now, after a brutal weight cut and after 5 months of remedial work for my deadlift, it was a bit of a unicorn.  Still, having your last deadlift mean something is some of the best fun you can have at a meet so I changed my third attempt and decided to giv'r.  I got it off the ground a few inches, maintained my posture, and nothing hurt so even though I missed the lift, it still felt like a small victory.  It felt really good to miss a deadlift because I wasn't strong enough rather than because my back shut it down.  

First attempt 220 kgs, good lift

Second attempt, 245 kgs, good lift

Third attempt, 267.5 kgs, no lift

So, all in all, I ended up with a 585 kg total, all lifts and total are technically PR's since this is a new weight class for me.  And I ended up with some good experience with lifting under less than ideal physical conditions.  I'm really looking forward to continuing to lose weight and train in my new weight class.  I feel like I'm good for at least another 30 kgs on my total come Provincials in November.  

As always the Niagara Powerlifting Club puts on a world class event.  Our session of two full flights was over in under 3 hours.  It was great seeing old friends, making new ones, and seeing all the new lifters.  

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