Competing on the World Stage: Ohio State is going to Belarus!

Such an honor: Ohio State Powerlifting is going international! Help get us there!

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We need your help!! Help send the Ohio State Powerlifting team to the World Stage!

http://go.osu.edu/tOSU

It is an honor and a privilege to share that I have been invited to compete on an IPF world stage this year: the 1st IPF University World Cup in Belarus, Minsk!

team pic.jpg

In order to truly understand the magnitude of this meet, it is important to understand just how elite IPF meets are. 99% of powerlifters will never have the chance to lift in an IPF meet, as they are reserved for the world’s best athletes. From a club standpoint, this is by far the largest stage we have ever been on. Furthermore, this is likely the largest stage any club sport from OSU has ever been on. We don’t take the task of representing Ohio State or the United States lightly!

OSU coach John Downing accepted the bid and selected the eight strongest pound for pound lifters to represent OSU Powerlifting at Worlds, myself included! The team will be traveling halfway around the world in July and I want you to come along on this journey!

You can follow my training updates for this meet here: https://www.instagram.com/stupidlystrong/

I will also be posting updates here periodically as well, of course!

If you wish to donate and help my team and I make it to the stage, please go here:

http://go.osu.edu/tOSU

It would mean the world to me and the entire team, and we want you to know that we greatly appreciate you.

Thank you!

 

Overcoming Your Bench Sticking Points

How much ya bench? That’s all the bros care about. So how much does it suck that no matter how hard you try, you’ve been stuck at the same weight for months now? Feel like no matter how hard you try, you just can break through that plateau? What you need to ask yourself is: where is my sticking point? If you can answer that, you can focus on overcoming these issues, and you will find that progressing on bench press will come easy to you once again.

There are really 3 common sticking points in the bench press: right off the chest, just above the chest, and lockout.

Off the Chest: The easiest one to address is off the chest. If you find yourself getting stapled with a certain weight every time you attempt it, it’s simply because you’re not strong enough yet. Instead of getting trapped under 225lbs every time you go for it, bench 210lbs instead. Yes, two plates looks a lot prettier than a plate and change. But in order to get stronger, you need to learn to swallow your ego. Work on adding a rep or two every workout, then once you can move 210 effortlessly for 5 reps, slowly add weight, just 5 or 10 pounds, and repeat. You’ll find that, before you know it, 225 is moving for reps just as easily as 210 did.

Another thing to add to your workouts is a pause in the rep. If you’re a powerlifter, this is something you should be doing anyway, as a paused bench press is what’s judged. Pausing the rep will take a lot of momentum out of the press, making the lift harder, and forcing your body to grow and adapt to it. If you already pause the weight, pause it longer. It’s not unheard of for myself to pause a weight for 5 seconds before pressing. This will teach you to stay tight, and how to successfully explode off the chest. Just make sure it’s a weight you can actually control for the entire duration of the press. Remember, swallow that ego at the door.

Just Above the Chest: If you’re failing the movement inches above your chest, it means you need to work on strengthening your pecs and shoulders. My favorite accessory by far is the Spoto Press. Similar to a board press (but definitely more difficult), you’ll pause the barbell an inch or two above your chest (your sticking point), pause it for about a second or two, then drive it up like you would a normal press. Mastering this lift will greatly help you retain tightness in the bottom of the lift, and help to strengthen the muscles at that point in the movement.

Another accessory that will really help develop the pecs and the shoulders simultaneously is the incline dumbbell press. Pick a weight that’s heavy enough to require some effort, but something you can also do for reps of 8-10. For me, this is about 40-50% of my bench press. Be sure to bring the dumbbells all the way down for a full range of motion. To make it even harder, I love to actually pause the dumbbells on my shoulders, and explode out of the bottom of the lift. This carries over into the violent explosiveness needed in the barbell press.

Finally, something like a pec fly is great for isolating the pecs, and strengthening them exclusively, for when your triceps and shoulders are absolutely destroyed.

Lockout: Have trouble with the top half of the lift? You need to strengthen your triceps. My favorite finisher/overload work for bench press is incorporating Mark Bell’s Slingshot. The Slingshot helps make the lift easier at the bottom portion of the lift by stretching the fabric at the bottom, allowing you to “slingshot” the weight out of the hole. As the bar rises, the weight accumulates and the triceps are put on blast. Usually I’ll work with a weight that’s 5-10% over my working set max. It feels fantastic!

A close second favorite: close grip bench press. By bringing your grip in close to the edge of the knurling, and keeping your triceps tucked through the entire exercise will force your triceps to be the main movers of this press, and will really test your pushing limits!

Another accessory you can add to your routine are pin presses! You’ll need a power rack to do this successfully, and you’ll want to adjust the safeties to a height that’s above the chest, but decently below lockout. This exercise allows you to push heavier weights than you may be used to, really hammering the triceps and the pecs at the top of the movement.

And finally, incorporating actual tricep accessories will help to increase their strength.

Why should you listen to me? I’ve increased my bench press to insane levels as a powerlifter, and most recently, I’ve been able to bench press 375lbs at a bodyweight of 180lbs (seriously, watch below!). Using these accessories and incorporating these lifts into my workout has done wonders for my bench press, and I am confident it will help yours as well.

Meet Report: USAPL Future Winter Meltdown

My second full powerlifting meet: results, review, and self critique.

Video of all 9 lifts:


Stats

  • Height: 5’7″
  • Weight: 80 kg/ 176.4lbs

Background and Training

  • 5’7/24/M, I’ve been training as a powerlifter for a little over a year now, and have competed in one meet prior to this one (in July, 565kg @ 83kg). I generally train 3-4 days per week, and squat 3x/week, bench 2x/week, and deadlift 1x/week. I’m following a blend of Nuckols’ programs, and using Prilepin’s chartto guide me in my volume selection for the workout. I don’t really track my diet too closely, just making sure to have high amounts of protein for recovery. And I’m on that creatine juice.

Meet Prep

  • I followed a tapering protocol laid out by CWS, as I felt this taper seemed pretty straightforward and logical (I’m sure most tapering protocols are similar). I dropped volume over a period of a month, and increased weight week to week, until I was performing openers a week out, then just going through the motions during the week leading up to the meet.
  • Sleep has sucked lately; I find myself lying awake at night for long periods of time, but I still try to force myself to bed around 10 (I’m typically waking up at 7 or 8).
  • My weight cut… was just normal dieting. I ballooned up to ~195+ in July shortly after my last meet, and walked around at that weight for a couple of months before I began dieting in October. I reached my goal weight of 182 about a week out from competition, so I ended up just having to maintain weight for a week – fairly easy.
  • Injuries: I was actually pretty happy with my body coming into this meet. My nagging shoulders were pretty well healed, and my hip healed fully from a bout of over-training from squatting 3x per week. Overall, can’t complain.
  • My goals going into this meet: get that 400 wilks, get that 600kg total.

The Lifts

I weighed in at 80.3kg, and went 6/9 overall.

Squat

  • 197.5KG, make: Completing this lift eliminated all of my nerves, and from this point on, I approached the platform in a zen state of mind. Went smooth, as all openers should. 3 white lights, 7.5kg/16.5lb meet PR.
  • 207.5KG, make: Perhaps a little slower than my opener, hit an all-time PR on my second attempt. 3 white lights, 17kg/38.5lb meet PR.
  • 217.5KG, miss: Took too big of a jump, just wasn’t strong enough. 3 red lights.

Bench

  • 165KG, make: So bench fell apart for me today; not sure if it was because of exhausting a lot of energy on the squat, but I was only able to hit my opener. Grinded out 165kg for a questionable 3 white light 5kg/11lb meet PR.
  • 170KG, miss: Burned out, again, strength wasn’t there, 3 red lights after sticking with it for about 5 seconds before failing it.
  • 170KG, miss: Some confusion in setting up the bench for me: the guy before me made a stink about the safety bars being set too high for him (they weren’t), so when they loaded the weight for me, they stopped me mid-setup because the rack height wasn’t set right, so I left, had to come back, re-setup… I know it all sounds petty, but it messed with the confidence I had to make the lift, and this weight didn’t move off my chest at all. 3 red lights.

Deadlift

  • 215KG, make: Nothing to see here. Opener flew up, 3 white lights, ties meet PR.
  • 225KG, make: The lift flew up again, but grip started to go towards the lockout. Another second or two and I may have dropped it. Got it down in time though, 3 white lights, 10kg/22lb meet PR. Officially in the 500lb deadlift club!
  • 230KG, make: My third attempt was a very conservative jump, due to how grip went in my previous attempt. However, to my horror, I realized as I was setting up that I forgot my fucking belt. I ran off the platform, grabbed my belt, quickly threw it on (one notch too tight, but I was in a hurry), setup, and managed to finish the pull easily with 8 seconds left on the clock. I felt like an idiot, but was euphoric that I still made the lift. 3 white lights, 15kg/33lb meet PR.

Results

  • Placed first in the 83kg Raw Open, out of approximately 14 competitors, totaling 602.5kg, which means I got a Wilk’s score of ~410! Woo!
  • I got to pee in a cup because I was “randomly” selected for a drug test. So that was cool.

Final thoughts

  • 12 hour day, with absolutely no sitting down until the end, as I was also coaching and handling my fiance for her first meet. She too did very well, with a total of 250kg in the 63kg class, coming second in the open (out of 7 girls, awesome!) and first in the Junior class (because… she was the only Junior). Even with the constant running around, while I didn’t make all of my planned lifts, I am extremely happy with my performance. Next up: Collegiate Raw Nationals in April!

3 Things I Did to Get a 315lb Bench Press

Bench, FailThat guy bench pressing 325 pounds in the picture? That’s me. I competed in a local raw bench press competition in February 2012, weighing in at an skeletal 149 pounds (I had 4% body fat, to give you an idea of how dense I was). And I pressed 325lbs. And I won best overall.

I used to think that a 225lb bench press (two plate bench press) was simply not in my cards. Then I did it. I never saw myself benching 275lb (two and a half plates). Then I did that. 3 plates? Never in a million years, I’m just too small.

Yep, I did that too.

Just recently, I increased my bench press to 375lbs in a push/pull competition, and this April (2016), I plan to set the Raw Collegiate National bench press record in the 83kg weight class.

So how was I able to reach these goals? How was I able to increase my bench press year after year, even after many have told me that I have reached my peak? Really, I can break it down to three simple, almost common sense reasons:

1) Attack  your weak points

Plateaus happened. The weight would stall for months at a time, and as the weight got heavier, the chance for stalling got greater. So what do you do? Break down the lift, and find out where it falls apart.

I’ll be writing a much more in depth post on overcoming “sticking points” in the bench press, because I feel that I’ve overcome a great deal of them myself. By lifting smart, and changing some variables, you can make the lift temporarily harder in order to make the lift easier down the road. Let me explain.

If you find that, no matter how hard you try, you always fail the lift right off the chest (as most raw lifters do), it means you need to strengthen your pecs. Do this by pausing for 3 seconds instead of 1 second, or by incorporating key accessories into your routine, like dumbbell presses and pec flyes.

Have trouble locking out? Strengthen your triceps! Make the top half of the lift harder by overloading using boards or Mark Bell’s Slingshot. Hammer them with extra tricep isolation exercises! Break them down to create the strongest triceps imaginable.

2) Increase your lifting frequency

If you’re serious about strengthening a certain lift, you need to put the time into it. I used to bench once a week, following the horribly low volume program of 5/3/1. It just wasn’t enough, and for years, my bench hovered around 315-335lbs. When I started benching twice a week, my bench press responded favorably, and jumped to 340lbs, then 350lbs. Now, my bench press has grown to be within pounds of 405lbs, my next big milestone. And I know that, given time, it will fall.

3) Fuel your body

I ate more. More chicken, more beef, more proteins and potatoes. More greens and more oats. When I got to college, suddenly I wasn’t bound to having one dinner. I could eat when my body told me I was hungry.

And my body rewarded me for this. As I took in more protein, and more healthy carbohydrates, my body repaired itself more effectively, and I had more energy in the gym. I would tear down my muscles to the point where I couldn’t even take my shirt off following a workout, and my body would get to work building stronger muscle in its place, because now it had the nutrients to do so.

Fueling your body doesn’t stop at food though. You need to provide your body adequate sleep, so that it can properly utilize those nutrients you’ve given it, and fully repair your body. Sleep is an amazing, and mysterious, part of the day, and it is when you are sleeping that your body does its best to repair itself.

So eat, eat, eat, but also, sleep!