First time fully equipped squatting (single ply) in almost 7 years.

After my last competition in early January, I knew I had 11 months before my next one so I decided to do some slightly different things.  Some for variety's sake, some because I have weakpoints that I've consistently neglected over the last couple years.

One of the things I started doing once I got back into the gym was gradually implementing overload (in comparison to raw/classic) squats using knee wraps.  After a number of weeks getting re-acclimated with squatting in knee wraps, I decided I'd break out my old Titan Super Centurion squat suit and go all-in on the overload work.

I last used this suit in August 2010 when I lifted in the Niagara Open.  At that time, I was walking around at 228 lbs but had cut weight to make the 220 lb weight class.  Because the squat suit was originally purchased when I was walking around at 250 or so and competing in the 242 lb weight class, it didn't provide near the carryover I had enjoyed just a few months earlier when I lifted at Nationals in April.  As a result, in Niagara, I made a lift of 235 kgs (518 lbs) and got stapled by my third attempt of 240 kgs (529 lbs).

A combination of being fed up with the small margin of error in equipped powerlifting as well as the soon to be introduced raw or classic division made my decision to ditch equipped powerlifting and banish my squat suit, knee wraps, and bench shirt to a box in the basement very easy.

In the six and half years since, I've slowly improved my raw strength from those days despite aging from 43 to 50 yrs old.  Being lucky and conservative in my training has helped me avoid injuries--both the nagging and the serious, life-changing kinds.   At this point in my life, I'm good with the trade-off of reasonably good health and slow progress versus potentially greater strength gains from more focused and intense training along with a higher chance of wrecking myself.  Because my best raw squat in 2010 was in the 450 lb range and my best, recent gym lift was 485 lbs (with a recently achieved competition best of 501 lbs), I was very curious to see how slapping on the equipment would go.

I belong to a gym with a very well equipped strength training room, Parabellum MMA, but the fighters do their strength work earlier in the evening so I usually have the entire weight room to myself.  Training solo doesn't negatively impact my raw lifting but it's definitely not ideal for equipped lifting.  Part of the reason it was easy to switch away from equipped lifting was due to the time demands required to meet up with other equipped lifters.  It wasn't unheard of for a weekend equipped lifting session with the team to take 2-3 hours start to finish and I just didn't have that kind of time to devote to powerlifting anymore.  Training for classic division lifting can be done solo and a long session for me takes 90 minutes.  An added benefit is the gym is 10 minutes away so travel to and from doesn't usurp much additional time.

Fortunately, my old squat suit is nowhere near a 'competition' fit so I can get into and out of the squat suit by myself.  That's only the first challenge though.  Between the knee wraps and the squat suit, one's squat groove feels different than squatting raw and it's easy to lose one's balance or shift out of the groove.  Since one is necessarily handling more weight than one can handle raw, it doesn't take much to lose control of the bar and dump it.  It's much more common when equipped benching than squatting but I still have memories of losing my balance and dumping a squat in the rack back in the day.  That's the last thing I wanted to do now.

My plan was to work up to a double with 455 with knee wraps only, throw on the suit and squat 495 with the straps down, and based on how that felt, put the straps up and squat 545.  Since my raw gym max (with knee sleeves) was 485 when peaked, even though I wasn't peaked for competition I still felt like a loose suit and knee wraps should give me close to 100 lbs of carryover--a healthy margin above and beyond my planned top single of 545.

Everything went according to plan and although my top single with 545 was of marginal depth (it actually felt like I wasn't close to deep enough while I was doing it), it wasn't too hard.  I'm sure I had at least 565 in me but I didn't want to push my luck first time in a suit in 6+ years.

495x2 straps down

545x1 straps up

A day later, even though I only did a grand total of 3 repetitions in the squat suit, my body feels it.  Between the overload from the weight and the compression and resistance given by the suit while I tried to keep my squat groove tight, it was just such a different stimulus than I get from unequipped lifting.  I'm glad I made the decision to keep things conservative, it will definitely take some time to get used to all of the extra stresses from equipped lifting.

Top: in the hole with a failed 255 kg squat in 2010. Bottom: in the hole with a successful 545 lbs/247.5 kgs in 2017

I'm not sure how much more equipped squatting I'll do.  It did feel better than expected and I am very curious to see how quickly it would take me to get acclimated and squat 600 in the suit.  Fellow M2 lifter Barry McEvoy sent me over his old Metal squat suit, a tighter fit than my Titan, so I do have  a progression available should I decide to meet up with other equipped lifters.  If I decide to actually compete equipped again, I'll need to find other equipped lifters because I can't train in the bench shirt solo.  Either way, it'll be a nice diversion for the next 6-8 weeks until I need to start planning my training for November's Provincials.

Popular posts from this blog

SBD Lever belt review -- TL DR; it's good, very good.

New shoes reviewed, Adidas Drehkraft to replace my Adidas Power Perfect 2's

Indochino suit review, Part I: Chronic iron overload presents a challenge for online made to measure suits.