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!

Product Review: STrong Sleeves vs SBDs

What is the best knee sleeve for powerlifting?

Which knee sleeve is the best for powerlifting, SBD or STrong Sleeves? Which knee sleeve should you buy? For years, SBD has owned the knee sleeve market for powerlifting and strongman competitors, and for good reason. Their high quality and high performance has made them a staple for all heavy squatters. I myself have used SBD knee sleeves now for about 6 months, and it really is night and day difference from using other brands.

A good pair of knee sleeves will provide you stability in your squat, assist you in the bottom of the squat, and, most importantly, keep your knees warm and injury free through your workouts and your competition. SBD excels at all of this.

However, more recently, Mark Bell’s company Slingshot has released their latest version of the knee sleeves, and it appears they intend to compete directly with the juggernaut SBD. The sleeves they’ve released, dubbed STrong Sleeves, are of the same length, thickness, and stiffness, and as a bonus, come in a variety of bright colors that fly in the face of SBD’s ubiquitous black and red.

Earlier this year, I purchased a pair of the STrong Sleeves, and I did notice some differences between the two sleeves. Pitted against each other, I’ve compared some key aspects of the sleeves, and ultimately, I’ve decided which sleeve I like better.

Cost

The easiest thing to compare is the cost to purchase these sleeves. SBDs will run you about $90 per pair of sleeves, whereas STrong Sleeves will save you about $10 with their $80 price tag. However, it isn’t uncommon for Mark Bell to run specials for his site which will knock off anywhere from 10-20% of the price, bringing the price down closer to $70. This is pretty significant, given that these sleeves are supposed to be of the same caliber, and as such, STrong Sleeves wins the point here.

Comfort

If you’re going to be wearing these sleeves for an entire workout, you’re going to want to make sure they’re comfortable. Both sleeves are made of neoprene 7mm in thickness, and, if the right size is bought, the sleeve is going to be tight and provide a whole lot of compression. Interestingly, the biggest difference between the sleeves is the seam, specifically its orientation. The SBDs have a seam which wraps around itself in a spiral, intended to “spread the stress caused by deep knee flexion.” STrong sleeves have their seam along the side, which is intended to “create less irritation.” And to this point, I agree. After about a half hour of squatting and sweating in my SBDs, it becomes itchy and almost unbearable to wear, and I begin to look yearn for the end of my squat session so I can take them off and relieve my knees from their itching sensation. From the first workout in my STrong Sleeves, I noticed immediately this wasn’t a problem. As the weight got heavier, I began to prepare myself for the parathesic feeling typically to come. And to my surprise, it didn’t. Another point to the STrong Sleeves.

Quality

While the SBDs have been through the ringer as a result of many squat sessions, my STrong Sleeves are still fairly new, so judging longevity is an issue right now. However, the sturdiness and feel of both sleeves, and the reinforced stitching both sleeves state they use, indicate that these sleeves are made with the highest quality standards in the industry, and as such, I cannot give a point to one or the other.

Performance

Now this is where it gets interesting. Ask any powerlifter why they bought knee sleeves, and they’ll be lying to you if they say it’s solely to protect their knees from injury. Let’s be real: we want the claimed “20-50lb” increase to our squat people claim these sleeves will give you. Note: it’s actually only Mark Bell’s STrong Sleeves that claims these sleeves will add pounds to your squat. And not just pounds, significant pounds, going so far as to say that their sleeves are “comparable in strength to a light knee wrap.” And this is where my bullshit alarm starts to go off.

In terms of actually adding pounds to the squat, without a doubt, these sleeves will help to that. 10 pounds? Sure. 20 pounds? Eh, that’s a big maybe. More than that? Forget about it. Anecdotally, I’ve actually found that the SBDs were the pair of sleeves that provided the best performance, especially with heavy weight. I’m able to move more weight for more reps whenever I’m equipped with my SBDs rather than with my STrong Sleeves. Same size, same tightness, significant difference. Maybe that seam design did play a role in the sleeve… Point goes to SBD.

Winner

Definitely… depends. If you’re interested in a sleeve that is high quality, comfortable, cost effective, and will assist you in adding some pounds to your squat, then STrong Sleeves easily wins this contest. However, if your main goal is simply to squat the most weight possible, regardless of other factors (and as a powerlifter, that is what you’re trying to do, right?), then SBDs are still the reigning champion of the knee sleeve market. And so, the right answer to the question asked above: Buy both!

SBD Sleeves from Anderson Powerlifting

STrong Sleeves from HowMuchYaBench.net