The Primal Powerlifter

This past Sunday I competed in my first powerlifting event and I still can’t believe I actually did it. I was so proud of myself for even just showing up at the event. Also, I want to say a big “THANK YOU” to both Brian and Ryan for coming with me. Ryan was great moral support and Brian coached me to success!

The entire week before I was nervous and stressed. I was trying to make it through a long week of work while also making sure that I had everything I needed for the event (unisuit, t-shirt, shoes, socks…all conforming to their standards).

I also had to lose some weight to be able to compete in the 123 weight class (because of traveling and Thanksgiving I had packed on a few pounds haha). I stuck to Primal, eating only meat, veggies and protein powder (even though numerous people told me I should be eating carbs…like bread…). I ate pulled pork, ribs, oxtail…all nice fatty meats that made me feel full and content.

And over the week everything came together and before I knew it Sunday was here (of course Saturday morning I was so nervous that Ryan said I was shaking the couch enough to make him nauseated).

I had all of my equipment, and lots of Primal snacks, including potatoes, protein powder, macadamia nuts, and apples. I was also well within my weight class, weighing in at 118lbs. The intermittent fasting and Primal diet had paid off! And my energy level was high despite the week of weight loss because of all the fatty meats (and a few potatoes on Saturday) that I had consumed.

Even though I was ready, I wasn’t any less nervous. Even most of the girls who were competing for the first time had spent about the last year training while I had only really spent the last two months even considering entering.

That fact was a bit intimidating. I’m usually the over-prepared person…not let’s-do-this-at-the-last-moment-on-a-whim person.

But, hey, I had spent the last two months training so why waste all that hard work? Even if I didn’t do well, it would be a great experience!!!

But I did do well…despite the fact that conventional wisdom would have told you that I had absolutely no chance, between my low carb, intermittent fasting diet, inconsistent workout routine and lack of a weight lifting belt (Ryan thought the fact that I was one of the few without a belt was pretty “bad-ass” haha).

Anyway, the point is I was nervous and not fully prepared especially by conventional standards. I’d never squatted or benched on command and I’d always had a mirror in which to watch myself deadlift and squat. I was super worried I wouldn’t go low enough on my squats and that I would fail on all three attempts and be out of the competition in the first lift. (A bit pessimistic but this thought kept running through my head…so much so that I was literally revising my numbers in my sleep.)

Anyway, because I was so nervous for squats (and we wanted me to feel good for deadlifts, which were the third lift of the day), we set my numbers super low…I attempted 150 then 160 then 170. In practice I’d hit 200lbs numerous times, and had almost even gotten 205lbs, so all three lifts ended up being super easy. On my first squat, I was so worried about going low enough that I almost dropped my butt all the way to the ground.

But the three successful squats, while too easy, did make me relax and feel more confident.

After about a two-hour break while all the men’s flights went, was bench…my least favorite lift probably because it is my weakest.

In practice, I had hit a PR of 120, but it wasn’t with a pause (I got close 125lbs but it was such a freaking ugly lift to get it up that it definitely doesn’t actually count). So we decided that my attempts should be 90lbs, 105lbs and 115lbs. I had no problem pausing on my first two attempts. But on the third, 115 just wouldn’t go up. Looking back on the lift, I wish I had taken more time to set up because I think it would have gone up if I’d planted my feet more and gotten a bit more arch in my back. But hey, hindsight is 20/20.

Anyway, 105, while a slight bit disappointing still wasn’t too shabby.

Then again we had another long break before we finished the day with deadlifts. While I’d felt more relaxed for bench, probably because I didn’t expect too much, I was super nervous for deadlift. Deadlift is my best lift and I definitely wanted to impress!

In training, my PR for deadlift was 280 and the Mass. State record was 275lbs. I thought I had a good chance of tying it at least!

So we set my first two attempts at 245lbs, 260lbs and figured we would see how those went before deciding if I would attempt 275 or 280. The first two lifts were super easy although my form definitely wasn’t perfect…I was nervous and worn out from a very long day.

We decided that my last attempt should be 275 to tie the record. Again looking back, I wish I had taken more time to get psyched up and set for the lift before I attempted it. I think it would have made a big difference. But despite the fact that I’ve hit 275 almost every time recently when I’ve trained, I just couldn’t make it budge on Sunday.

I was super bummed. My last lift of the day and my strongest and I couldn’t hit a number that I’d just easily pulled that Monday before.

Not the way I’d wanted to end the day. But I was still proud that I’d at least managed to pull over double my bodyweight and hey…I’d made it through my first competition!

A little upset by my last lift and super worn out from the stress of the long day (it is amazingly hard to get revved up for an event then cool down only to have to get revved up two hours later to compete again!), we decided to stay for the awards ceremony just in case I won something.

I’m definitely glad we did! I ended up winning both my weight class and the Best Lifter award for the Women’s Raw Division. The Best Lifter award is a relative strength measurement. They take everyone in the raw division from every weight class and figure out who lifted the most weight in relation to their body weight.

So in the end I left proud and happy even though I still wish I’d made those two lifts.

Overall, a very successful meet. And one of the things that makes me most proud is that I did it my way. While everyone else was drinking Gatorade and eating bread and protein bars, I was eating my Primal snacks.

Although I do have to admit…I’d train a bit differently before my next competition. I would definitely create a schedule and a more consistent program than the one I did these past few months! haha

Anyway, Ryan made a video of the meet. Right now it is just on Facebook, but I’ll upload it to YouTube later today!

It was a great experience and if you are into powerlifting, I would recommend you enter at least one competition!

P.S. Sorry for the super long post…I’m just super excited!!!

Posted on December 13, 2011, in Benefits of doing "man" exercises, Conventional Wisdom - How I hate you, Man Biceps, Workout and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. The super long post was actually super useful–I’ve thought about competing, and I weigh pretty close to what you do, so it was really nice to see about what I’d have to lift in order to make it worth the time. (Answer: only a little more?)

    • If you want to do a competition, don’t worry about your numbers just do it! Everyone is super nice and you really are only competing against yourself so just make it a goal to go out and set a new personal record! 🙂 If you do one, let me know!

  2. Congratulations on your first meet and welcome to the club! I’ve been competing off and on since I was a teenager and I still love it. It doesn’t matter how old or how young you are (within reason…I don’t believe in seeing 5 year old kids lifting maximal weights). One of my training partners is actually 50 years old and he did his first meet this past year. I love it when I see older lifters getting involved…it seems like more and more women are getting involved with the sport too which is great.

    Congratulations again! It’s all about competing against yourself, and the comraderie in powerlifting is unparalleled.


    Ken @

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