Ok, I promised an article on my journey to the platform and here it is. Hopefully you can get some useful information which you can implement in your own training. I’ll try not to drag this article for too long, but I’m not going to make any promises. I want my experience to help you on your own journey.
The original plan with Jacob (my coach and founder of JPS Health and Fitness) was for me to do the JPS open competition in December. However we pushed the powerlifting forward which left me with 6 weeks of preparation time to the platform.
This brought about excitement and nervousness at the same time.
Training – pre comp
At that point my training was focused on improving my proficiency with the compounds and addressing some weak points – underactive glute and improving scapula control.
The lack of movement proficiency with the compound lifts (squat, bench, deadlift) was because I was transitioning from a bodybuilding background becoming a competitive powerlifting athlete. Bodybuilding is a sport which is focused around driving volume and utilizing exercise variation. When it comes to bodybuilding, volume is the key drive for muscle growth. Using variation allows for activation different motor patterns. It’s important to understand because bodybuilding is a game of symmetry and symmetry is achieved through different exercises.
The other weakness that Jacob and I needed to address was underactive glutes, which can lead to array of issues. Underactive glutes or tight piriformis can lead to knee pain, shooting nerve pain (sciatica) and even back pain. If you are currently experiences any of these symptoms, your glutes might be something you want to address.
To improve my glute activation I used the hip-circle which is a round band which placed around your legs, just above or below the knees. Pushing the band apart and focusing on external rotation during exercises such as light squats or hip thrusts will assist in glute medius activation. I urge you to try this in your next workout and see how much better your hips feel after you prime the glutes for heavy loading. We also utilised the barbell hip thrust, predominately a hip extension exercise, which is great for putting emphasis on the glute maximus and medius.
Another weak point that Jacob and I addressed was scapula control. I think a lot people underestimate the importance of scapula control and scapula stabilization. This could be regarded as the most important factor in building strength and hypertrophy in your back. Let me explain. Due to me having a tight teres major, lack of spinal articulation and a host of other things, I really struggle with scapula stability and control. Being unable to depress or retract your scapula hinders your ability to build muscle. It also increases your risk of injury because imbalances will occur. Finally not to add fuel to the fire, but this will also affect your ability to stay tight under compound movements such as the squat, bench and deadlift.
How can the scapula be so important? Scapula depression assists with lat activation. Remember when it comes to the compound movements, the lats aren’t a prime mover but they are a prime stabilizer. Addressing scapula control can take your physique and strength to a whole new level. Jacob and I implemented exercises such as Face Pulls, strict Pull Ups and Pendlay Rows to improve upper back stability and strength and boy did it pay off.
Training – Comp peaking phase
After this phase of training, we had six weeks before competition so we moved into our peaking phase (very heavy weights, lower reps). It’s important to understand that t further you or your client is from competition, the more variation you can have in training and the more time you can spend addressing weak points. Once you are getting closer to the competition, the training needs to be more specific to their sport.
Powerlifting is a sport which consists of three attempts at maximal weight on three lifts – squat, bench and deadlift. Training for this competition now was geared around practising the main lifts, with lower reps (roughly about 1-3 reps) and reducing the accessory exercises. For this peaking phase, we switched from a high-bar to a low-bar squat. The low bar squat (meaning the bar is place in a lower position on your back) puts more emphasis on the muscles in the posterior, allowing the person to lift the most amount of weight possible. When we increase the intensity (weight), we also have to lower the volume we are currently doing. This will allow us to put more time and energy into lifting higher percentages leading up to competition. The number of days of training were reduced so more time could be put towards rest and recovery.
2 weeks leading up to comp, the nerves started to really kick in, part of being human, people get nervous for different reasons. For me it was because I was stepping into unknown territory (the platform). The Issue with me is that nerves really deters me from eating meals. To make matters worse, 2 weeks out I had stopped tracking my food. Big learning curve for me because when I stopped tracking, I unintentionally ate less food and meals throughout the day. So, when I weighed myself on comp day, my weight had gone from 89kg down to 87kg. This is why it’s important to keep track because as humans we tend to deviate back to our old habits without structure.
On the morning of the competition I didn’t do anything magical with my nutrition. I had my usual pre-workout meal which consisted of rice, kangaroo mince, spinach, bell peppers, mushroom and tomato. I took with me to the comp Gatorade to help me sustain my energy levels throughout the day, I also took electrolytes (they dictate how the cells communicate with each other) because when exercising, our body is depleted of vitamins and minerals which can start to impede our performance. I also took banana bread and lollies. I knew on the day that my adrenaline and cortisol would be elevated, one thing we need to know about adrenaline and cortisol is that it increases blood glucose, to help manage this I brought salted chips. They contain sodium and chlorine which are essential for helping other nutrients be absorbed, keeping the body working and healthy. The carbohydrates in the chips for energy and the fat in the chips would help slow elevation of blood glucose so I didn’t crash and burnt out during competition day.
It was a great day of lifting for all the athletes; the support we gave each other is what truly makes this sport amazing.
- Weighed in at 87.6kg bodyweight, end up going 8/9, totalled 630kg:
- Squat: 220kg
- Bench: 160kg
- Deadlift: 250kg⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
- 🥇 Won u/94kg weight class
- 🥇 Won Best Male Lifter (based on Wilks)
- 🥇 Won Best Bench Press
I won’t go into detail about the competition day experience because that is another whole article in itself! But to the point, I loved competing. I can’t thank Jacob enough for helping me through this experience, I cannot speak highly enough about Jacob as a person and as a coach. I’ll definitely be back on the platform and I will once again be sharing my experience with you.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my experience, I hope you were able to get some great information out of the article and I look forward to hearing about your journey the powerlifting stage.
Moving forward I plan to embark on a journey to the bodybuilding stage in September, stay tuned fam!
If you’d like to learn more about how you can prepare yourself for a comp, or even just about training in general, this feel free to contact us. Alternatively, if you’d like to learn more about the services and training and nutrition programs we provide, please find more information here.