View Full Version : Evaluating after my first meet...Veterans critique!

03-04-2008, 04:55 PM
After talking about it for around 6 months, I finally had my first powerlifting meet march 1st. It was in this hole in the wall gym in the northside of chicago (B & W gym). It ended up being a lot of fun and I was happy to set a deadlift PR and hit a great squat at competition depth. I was hoping to get some training and form advice from a few of you veterans, but first let me give a quick summary of my lifts...

First was squat--I hadn't been this nervous since my last wrestling tournament. I opened with 350, went smooth, hit 395 but forgot to wait for the ref's signal to rack the weight, then busted on 415 (would have been a 10 lb PR). I think I failed because I went too deep and I couldn't keep tight enough. Should I suck in and hold my breath of air before I unrack the weight, or should I unrack the weight, get my signal to descend, then take a gulp of air and get tight? I tried to do the latter of the two and it didn't really feel like I could get a good breath in. Anyways, here's the video for it 395:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=k3ZkzP0veOo (sorry that its sideways... I can't for the life of me figure out how to flip it on youtube, and using VLC it flips the video for ALL of my videos...Its not my camera either so I can't change it on that either.)

I think I definatly need to work on my flexibility and get a lot wider for squats. Any other suggestions?

Bench went a lot worse. I have been specializing on overhead pressing over the past couple weeks untill about 4 weeks ago when I signed up for this. I opened with 215 and forgot to tell my spotter that he had to move out of the way and ended up holding the weight on my chest for a good 5 seconds. I still made the lift but it was kind of funny. Live and learn. : )

http://youtube.com/watch?v=cNvZQIcL1qk (once again if anyone knows how to change the orientation on youtube tell me!!)

My second two attempts on 245 were also a bust, which was really dissapointing. My best touch and go bench was 255 a few months ago, and I've bottom position pressed 240 before so I thought this wouldn't be a problem. Guess not!


I think I need to work on my form for bench the most. I have a real hard time keeping my shoulder blades pinched together, and for my weight I should have a much bigger arch. When I get into position, should I get my arch in first like I have then pinch my shoulders together, or do it the other way around? I feel like I loose my arch a bit when I arch first then pinch my shoulders. Any advice on this?

Deadlift was last. I was exhausted but still made a 10 lb pr of 485.


Apparently this was a state record my age/weight so I decided to go on ahead and try for 500 afterwards. I made it off the floor, and my grip felt strong, but I think I was just out of gas. Oh well--I don't think I'm far from it!


Any suggestions on form for any of these would be great, especially bench where I'm most lagging.

I'm also not really sure where I should go training wise for the next few months. Lately I've been doing a westside varient only on 3 days a week instead of four, though I feel like I'm not getting much out of the speed work for bench -- I just don't think I'm pressing enough weight to begin with to make any real gains out of it. I think I've made some gains for the squat/deadlift from all the speedwork, though overall I think at this stage in the game I make better progress doing the actual lift instead of lifts that are similiar (I'm talking about ME days here). So I think I want to switch back to some 5 x5 training or heaving singles or something. I might look up some old rack training routines in dinosuar training. Any advice for this? I REALLY need something that will help out my bench -- for my age, weight and experience its almost emberassing. I guess I have some excuse - I never benched for wrestling, and as a result my bent over row/chinup + weight numbers are awesome, though that doesn't help my powerlifting much.

Thanks for reading this post, a bit long but I'd really appreciate any help on this.

03-04-2008, 05:41 PM
Nice lifts man. How much do you weigh?

Travis Bell
03-04-2008, 05:47 PM
First, on your squat, you are going down before you take your air. You need to take your air, and then go down. Looked like you got a little hurried, take your time.

As far as your bench goes, you don't have any leg drive. You're right you need to work on your flexibility for your arch a bit more but work on including your legs into the press. Don't throw out the speed work, just work on going faster and faster. Time yourself. Speed is priceless when it comes to benching.

What have you been doing for your ME exercises? that will make a difference in the effectiveness. Forget substituting OHP for benching, its a good exercise, but as an ascessory, not a substitute

03-04-2008, 10:47 PM
On the squat I think I was a little hurried - but my question was should I take in air and press against the belt as/before I'm unracking the weight, or unrack the weight, get into position, then take in air?

You really think I can make good gains from speed work when I'm only benching around 240? (I weigh about 186 by the way, though I lifted at 198 because I didn't feel like cutting weight at my first competition). I do need to get more leg drive, though I feel like I'm pressing myself down the bench (i.e. sliding) when I drive with my legs, versus actually pressing myself into the bench, ESPECIALLY when I'm working with lighter weights on DE days.

Quick question: should I pause with the weight like its a comp, bounce it off my chest, or touch and go with DE bench days? I've seen vids of all of these.
As for my ME excercises, I've been doing... bottom position bench press, pin press lockouts, D.B. bench, floor presses... But this was all awhile ago. Its been a goal of mine to overhead press 200 lbs (which I'm putting on hold for awhile) so I put bench on the sidelines to work on that goal, that is until about a month ago when I signed up for a competition.

any other recommendations for ME exercises the weight I'm putting up? I've bottom position pressed 240 before but I can only do lockouts with around 290. Also, I don't have any chains or bands. I'm thinking I need to keep the cycles longer too - 3 weeks, and because I'm still not pressing a lot of weight, keep the reps around 3 instead of 1 rep maxes.

I think I really need to work on my setup more. Are there any videos or how to's on bench press technique/setup for powerlifting? I've watched most of the "squat rx" vids, are there any bench rx? :-p

03-05-2008, 03:08 AM
There are bench press dvds you can order from elitefts.com. They really go into the setup really well.

03-05-2008, 04:40 AM
Nice lifting Hazerboy. What weight division were you in, how old are you?

Travis Bell
03-05-2008, 07:58 AM
Some guys will do both as far as your air goes. they'll take a breath, walk it out, stand there and take another breath. Its just really hard to take in air when you're already going down though because your body is trying to squish all the air out of your diaphram.

your ME exercise selection looks pretty good, but I'd really recommend you get your hands on some bands, they'll really help. When you say that you need to keep your cycles longer, do you mean that you think you should do the same exercise for 3 weeks on ME day? I'd disagree with that but maybe I misunderstood.

Doing speed work is really beneficial. That way as your bench increases your speed will stay right in line. Otherwise what happens is your bench goes up a little, then stalls because you don't have the speed to press it. Like I said, just focus on moving it faster and faster. How much bar weight are you using? You would probably be alright with getting about 135-145lbs of bar weight on the bar.

Look on www.elitefts.com for some videos on bench pressing, it might help and they have a zillion vids so it might take awhile.

My only caution is try to not overthink this too much, keep lifting, keep having fun and you'll get it. You did super for your first meet.

03-05-2008, 05:33 PM
Hey Travis, do you recommend bands for DE, ME, or both?

Travis Bell
03-05-2008, 05:35 PM
Sure do. For most people mini bands is plenty for DE day. I usually cycle between minis and monster minis. For ME day I'll go anywhere from minis to purple bands or even green bands once in a great while (usually in my shirt)

03-05-2008, 05:40 PM
Cool, I have some mini bands, but I have to get some bigger ones for squats and deads.

03-05-2008, 06:15 PM
Hey Super Training just came out with a new Bench DVD and its awesome. I lift with team ST and still feel like I learned sumtn from the DVD. Its called NEVER ENOUGH BENCH DVD on elitefts.com

03-05-2008, 07:45 PM
This all sounds like great advice, but shouldn't I be hesitant to invest bands/DVDs when I'm only benching around 240? I don't want to be the guy whose got all the expensive fancy stuff when its not really necessary for my skill level...

BUT I looked online and the mini bands are only 12 bucks so I might look into getting some. My only problem is that they say they add around 90 lbs of resistance at the top when they're doubled up... Is there a feasible way to hook them up so that they're not doubled up? Where you recommending that I use them for DE of ME exercises? And can I hook up the bands when I don't have one of their Jump platform things?
Travis -

I was thinking that for some exercises I would go 3 weeks instead of 1 or 2 because they might be really new to me (i.e. I haven't done floor press in FOREVER) so the first session will probably just be getting a feel for the exercise and getting a number down. For ones that are more familiar I'll probably do 1 or 2 weeks per cycle.

Travis Bell
03-05-2008, 08:17 PM
why wouldn't you want to add 90lbs at the top?

haha I wouldn't worry about what other people think of you getting DVDs or bands. I didn't get bands because I bench such and such, I got them so I could learn to bench more.

I still wouldn't recommend going more than two weeks on a given exercise, its going to become very difficult to hit a PR each week, I switch it up every week, but sometimes you need to try something out and I understand that.