Life is going great here and just crazy busy (silly dissertation and business stuff) so I am behind on updates. Many had asked about the powerlifting meet updates, so here you go along with some valuable lessons I learned. One of them is to never write blog posts online since they don’t save as you go along until you hit “save key” and if something happens to your computer you can loose 45 minutes of work. Not that I know anything about that (as I type this as a draft in Outlook now).
The USAPL Hudson Meet is going down tomorrow, so if you are looking for something to do, stop on out there and cheer everyone on. I am hoping to make it out, but depends on how much dissertation work I can crank out. My buddy Steve Reishus (follow his blog at Steve Reishus’s Blog ) and Tommy Miller of My Meathead Experiences are competing, so go watch them shatter some PRs!!
Tuesday Sept 15 of this year I decided to do my first full powerlifting meet. For those of you on my newsletter list you know that I had planned to do it in June of this year and backed out due to that crazy PhD study on Energy Drinks I was working on and opted to do it in Sept.
Well, Sept was well upon me and honestly did not want the stress of doing a meet to be adding to everything else I had going on. I convinced Dave (aka Athlete Creator, be sure to check out his blog Athlete Creator) who was lifting with me for crazy bench night on Tuesdays at the Extreme Human Performance Center to do the meet, but I was opting out. Sure I could cite all sorts of reasons, but what was I telling athletes that I worked with al lthe time?
“Pick a goal, sign up to do it NOW” I don’t really care too much if it is a bodybuilding show, Fitness show, Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC), Powerlifting Meet, RKC, pick something, tell everyone, and do it.”
Crap. I was not taking my own advice. Uh oh.
Burn the Ships!
When Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, one of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships. Cortez was committed to his mission and did not want to allow himself or his men the option of going back to Spain. By removing this option, Cortez and his men were forced to focus on how they could make the mission successful. Time to put up and shut up. I called the organizer and weaseled in (plus a late fee). Never mind that I just did a max deadlift the day before (Monday) of that week and most advocate a deload from deadlifts of atleast 18 days. Ooops. I checked my past records and my typical deload was 7- 10 days; so 5 days is close, right?
Add to this that I had never done a full meet (did 2 push pull meet, so I never did squats in competition), so it would be interesting. Truth be told I had avoid squats up until this year. I did them every now and again, but squatting deep had been painful for a long time so that was my excuse.
I chilled out Friday, had a great Chipolte chicken burrito and headed off to bed early after a hot Epsom salt bath Friday night. Saturday I was up at 6:30 am to get there by 7:15am and sign in. I skipped breakfast and fluids in the AM to save a couple pounds, but I was not too concerned about weight. Weighed in at 206.5 lbs and realized that Vibrams Five Fingers are illegal by USAPL standards. This confirms my thoughts that Vibrams are indeed ergogenic and enhance performance, thus must be promptly be banned!! I guess they had a formal meeting and everything about it. Good thing I brought my flat Asics Tiger shoes, but forgot my deadlift socks as you have to wear knee high socks for the deadlift. Bugger. Back in my car to run home and luckily I only lived 20 minutes away. Note to everyone, be sure to sign up early and read all the rules and yes, the rules can change. (I wonder how many people I have told that to in the past)
Back at the meet it was almost time for squats and made some oatmeal and protein that brought in along with a banana. Dave was there and all ready to go. Warm up time!
It’s Go Time
I was paranoid about missing my opener since I had never done a full meet before (only 2 push pulls, so bench and deadlifts); and I opened at 185 lbs. Heck, I did reps to about 2 feet below parrallel warming up at that weight. Just wanted to get an easy opener in and go from there.
My opener at 185 went easy and I buried it, plenty deep (but no video). The second one I went up to 220 lbs and made it with plenty of depth (see video at the end). Last attempt I did 242 for a 2 lb PR and for today I was happy with that. More on my squat goals later.
Unfortunately Dave had a freaky quad tear on his last squat attempt and was out for the day. Major bummer, but I know Dave will be back very soon (note he is already doing well and back to benching the same weight as before the injury). So I hit up Aaron Friday for a lift off on the bench felt like I needed to hit some PRs for Dave. Opened at 185 lbs which I had done in training for multiple reps and even up to a 5 second pause at my chest on my worst day. Went fine and hit up 220 lb which went well also. Thrid attempt I went for 236 which would be a PR of 5 lbs, but stalled out about 1/2 to 1/3 off my chest after the pause. Bugger. My left arm started to move away from my chest at the side and caused the weight to stop.
If I had to pick only one lift, it would be the deadlift. I feel it is the best indicator or overall strength since you just have to pick up a heavy bar off the floor. While it is more complicated than that in practice, it appears rather simple.
I opened at 365 lbs and that was fine. Went up to 390 lb which I just hit in training that past Monday and it came up with great speed–nice. My last attempt I went for 413 which would be a meet PR of 8 lbs (last DL was at the Tactical Strength Challenge at 405 lbs). I walked up, set my feet, thought tall spine, bent done and it came up pretty easy for 3 white lights. Whoo ha!
I realized that during the lift that this was actually FUN! I think I missed that on my 2 previous push pull (bench/deadlift) meets! In the past I was scared out of my mind for days out since the first time I had no idea what to expect, how it was run, did not have anyone else there, etc. The second meet was not much better as I was so nervous that I wanted to hit my PRs. This time I signed up at the last minute and did not have any huge expectations, so I was very calm and relaxed the whole time; except for when I had to step up and lift.
I knew what to expect this time and knew that being nervous all the time was wasting precious energy. Plus, I was doing this for fun and to just do better than last time. I was not under any illusions that I would win, or even place and I was totally fine with that. In the past I would say that I would not compete because my numbers were not “good enough”. I soon realized that they will never be “good enough” as I always feel I can do more and strength wise I am so far from my potential it is not even funny. The downside is by never testing anything, you have no idea where you are at and it allows your goals to start sliding. I remember my buddy Frankie telling me that “the best data is collected on test day.” Powerlifting is very objective. You either made the lift within the confines of the rules or not.
So as I sat down after my last lift and realized I finally made my 2 x body weight DL as I weighed in at 206.5 in the AM! Sweet!
Another Level – Video Inspiration!
Some monster deadlifts were being hoisted up at this meet, here are just 2 of them! Nice work Steve and Marshal!!
My 2 X body weight DL goal was one I set about 3 years ago. I remember seeing Dr. Cobb (of Z Health) and he asked my performance goal and I said “Deadlift 2Xs my body weight” Keep in mind that at this time I had a twisted spine from hell, low back pain, I could barely touch past my mid shins on a forward bend, almost non working left hamstring, and my head was at about a 30 to 45 degree angle. I was a biomechanical nightmare to say the least. I remember him looking at me and thinking back I can envisioned him thinking “What the heck do you think your doing trying to even lift a bar out in front of your body without possibly blowing a disk out your lumbar spine as it flys across the wall” But he kindly said “Maybe you should think about some light trap bar deadlifts for some time” ha!
At this time I was deadlifting 325 lbs on a good day and figured that 425 was just around the corner. Ha! Granted the 325 lbs was an improvement from the 95 lbs I started at during my last year of college (ok, college the first go round when I graduated after almost 8 years in 1999).
Summary (6 Lessons I Learned)
It has been said that there are only 2 things that keep you from your goals
Combined those two and you are golden.
Here are 6 things I learned
Pick a goal, tell everyone, burn your ships and don’t look back.
The reality is we live in a “here and now” society and every
one (myself included) wants a result NOW.
Most goals worth achieving take a long time. Years in fact. Nobody wants to hear that. Ironically I am always looking to provide my athletes (and myself) the fastest, safest, solutions; but the reality is that there are some quick things that make a HUGE difference; but it will always take reps that you put in.
No one really cares how long it takes you to reach your goal.
Heck, nobody really cares how much you lift except you really. I remember sending out a video of myself doing a 400 lb tire flip here at the Extreme Human Performance Center and people were like “WOW, that is crazy!” Now for those of you that have done it, a 400 lb tire flip is WAY WAY easier than a 405 lb deadlift. But very few can relate to a deadlift, but they can relate to a 400 lb tire. Point is, most who don’t lift can’t fathonm what you are doing, irregardless of the weight.
Keep striving for knowledge and action, and you will be set.
I want at least 5 people to put their goals in the comment section here! The time is now! Only about 2 months of 2009 left. Get to it.
Rock on Mike T Nelson
A huge thanks to Tommy Miller for the following testimonial. Tommy is a Strength and Conditioning Coach at the University of Minnesota and also an Assistant Strength and Conditioning coach at Velocity Hockey in Eden Prairie Minnesota. Tommy has published many articles on the popular websitewww.xlathlete.com and you can follow his lifting experiences on his blog at
A few weeks ago I could pull (deadlift) 540 lbs no problem, but as soon as I put on 550 I was stuck at my knees. I talked with Mike T Nelson and he prescribed some ankle mobility drills and ankle lateral tilts. A few weeks ago I wanted to reach up and touch 95-97% of my 1RM, I remembered what Mike had taught me and I did these mobility drills between each of my sets. Once I passed the 405 mark I started to do them in my sumo DL stance and then it happened 555 flew up! Finally a training barrier that I can safely put behind me. Thanks Mike!
—-Tommy Miller, Strength and Conditioning Coach and Powerlifter
Excellent work Tommy!
Keep in mind that to make your joint mobility work most specific and increase your performance in a specific lift, you can do it in that position. In Tommy’s case, he deadlifts sumo style, so he did his joint mobility work in in his sumo stance; thus increasing the positive transfer to his sport (powerlifting).
If you are interested in picking up some mobility work, you can get the R Phase DVD from the Z-Health site. If you are in the Twin Cities/ St Paul Minnesota area and want to feel, move look and perform better, drop me a line at Mike@ExtremeHumanPerofrmance.com Subj “Z Health Session”and come on out for a session yourself!
Most only stop an exercise when their form breaks down, so this is after too much tension (there goes #4), their breathing is out of whack (#3) and their spine is not tall and long (#2) and hopefully they stop now as their form is degrading. This is the path of INefficiency.
In Z-Health, it is recommended to stop once there is EXCESSIVE tension and this takes care of the others. Does all that tension and “sour puss face” when you are bench pressing really help you lift more weight? Go back and look at the Soviets in the 70s and 80s and note their expressions. They did not have excess tension, heck some hit PRs (personal records) and they looked like they were going to fall asleep! They learned that EXCESSIVE tension was not efficient. Again, this does not mean tension is bad; but excessive tension is not ideal.
Do you see any excessive tension here?
Vasily Alexeev – 230kg. (507lb.) Clean & Press
There are 2 general types of breathing
1) anatomical match
2) biomechanical match.
If you are teaching efficiency, anatomical match is what you want as you will breath out when the lung field is in a collapsed position and inhale when it expands.
Examples of Anatomical Breathing Match
Kettlebell Press: breath in on the way up (expanding) and breath out on the way down (arm pushing in on the lung area).
Squat: exhale on the way down, and inhale on the way up
Bench press: exhale as the bar is pulled down and inhale on the way up.
Biomechanical match is just the opposite of this and is inefficient.
Without opening a whole can of worms, there are times you want to make exercise inefficient, but for a vast majority of yoru work you want to make it efficient.
Many have no idea which method they are using or why, so awareness is a great start.
Make it LOOK easy. Most violate all the elements of efficiency in the gym. Watch elite athletes, do they make it look easy? Yes! You get what you practice.
Thoughts? Be sure to leave a comment below. I love comments!