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Fitness: Training for a Lifting Competition

As many people who read my blog know, the last year has been a busy year for me. I was recently going through draft blog posts and came across this one I wrote about a competition I did a year a go to the day. The information is still relevant so I thought I would share.

(A year ago) I recently competed in my first weightlifting/powerlifting competition. It was a great experience and I thought I would share my findings. Read on to learn more!

Background

Before I begin, let me provide some context. Around the beginning of October, I saw a Facebook post about an upcoming CrossFit competition. Whenever I see this, I like to take a look at what the standards are to see if I would be interested. This competition was a male/female partner weightlifting and powerlifting competition. While it was to take place in a CrossFit setting, it did not have the typical CrossFit met-cons. Instead, the competition consisted of:

  • Snatch complex: 2 TNG power snatches + 1 hang squat snatch
  • 5-rep max back squat
  • 2-rep mac bench press
  • Clean and Jerk ladder

For those of you who know about these types of lifts, the competition is interesting as it combines both Olympic lifting (snatch / C&J) with power lifting (back squat, bench). Looking over the events, back squat would be the easiest for me and I figured I could hold my own on the C&J assuming I was having a good jerk day. The bench press I did not have high hopes for and the snatch was a throw away. In any case, it sounded fun so I registered.

Preparation

In order to prepare for the competition, I had to make a few changes to my training including:

  • Reducing and eventually eliminating cardio
  • Increasing strength training
  • Eating more (bulking)
  • Adding more accessory work
  • Working on weaknesses

When it comes to lifting heavy, cardio can significantly impact your results. In addition, if you are cutting or maintaining weight, you will likely also impact your results. When it comes to weight, it depends on whether or not you have to worry about weight classes. For this competition, there was a light and heavy division and we were well over the cut over point for heavy.

Two Weeks Out

Two weeks before the competition is when things get really interesting. This is really the last week you can go all out and get as sore as possible. By this time, all cardio should be cut out as it will not help. This is also the time to focus on the competition events and not additional training besides accessory work.

The week before is a good time for de-load. This week also has no cardio and while you still work on the competition events, you do so at about 30-50% effort. In addition, cutting out most accessory work and replacing with stretching is a good idea. You want to be loose and comfortable with the movements right before the event. Finally, I drank lots of water to ensure I was hydrated and tried to ensure I got eight hours of sleep each night.

Competition

The days before the competition is when you should ensure you are packed and ready to go. You do not want to be scrambling on competition day and run the risk of forgetting something. Here are the items I packed:

  • Clothes: Work-out, warm-up, and a change just in case
  • Shoes: Met-cons and lifters
  • Equipment: Belts, wrist wraps, knee wraps, tape
  • Food: PB&J, tuna fish, energy bars, lots of water
  • Other: Supplements, headphones, mobility equipment

The night before the competition, I double checked I had not forgotten anything and made sure I went to bed early. I got up early enough to get ready and to eat a good breakfast before heading out. When I arrived, I immediately started stretching and warming up. Before every event, I ensured I was warm and ready for the movement. After each event, I ensured I had something to eat and drink. After the event, I ate a lot of food and drank plenty of water in addition to stretching out frequently. The day after the event, even though I was sore, I forced myself to go to the gym. While I took it easy, I wanted to keep my muscles as loose as possible to aid in recovery.

Results

So how did I do? Overall, I hit all of my goals:

  • 185# snatch complex — 10# better than in training and inline with my normal snatch performance
  • 445# back squat — 20# PR!
  • 255# bench press — 20# PR!
  • 295# C&J (missed the jerk on the 305#) — 20# PR!

Was I sore after? Yes. My primary issue was my left shoulder, which appears to be jerk technique related. A couple of days later my hamstrings were sore. By the end of the week after the competition I was back at steady state.

(For those curious, I put on about 12+ pounds for the competition.)

What’s Next

As I discussed in my last fitness post. While I would like to continue improving my strength, I also want to drop some weight and increase my cardio. I am currently back on a macro diet and currently preparing for the CrossFit Open.

Update from a year later: I actually changed my plans. Shortly after writing this, I decided to stick to Olympic Weightlifting and joining Juggernaut training in addition to CrossFit. I did this until I switched to the startup in May. At that time, I switched to just Olympic Weightlifting. Given my schedule, I have not had the opportunity to train as much as I would like, but currently I am working on cutting weight to get back into competition shape. I hope to compete again in the spring.

© 2018, Steve Flanders. All rights reserved.

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