Before I let Emme share her experience with her second powerlifting meet, I just want to say that I am extremely proud of her. She works super hard in the gym and listens to everything I tell her. She had a tough weekend, as you will read about below, but she showed a lot of toughness to keep going and finish the meet strong. She is a strong and beautiful woman, and I am so blessed to have her in my life.
I remember trying to convince her to lift weights a little over two years ago. 🙂 She was a runner and never felt that she would get the same workout with resistance training. Fast forward to today – she never runs – and she lifts weights 3-4x/wk. Her body comp has improved, and she actually looks forward to going to the gym. So as I have mentioned in the past, if you are a female, do not be afraid that weights will make you bulky or that you will gain fat from not running. Emme, and plenty of other women, are proof of that.
Here is Emme:
When Zach asked if I would be interested in writing a guest blog about my second powerlifting meet experience, my initial reaction was less than enthusiastic. I was disappointed with my performance at the meet, and I was not excited about sharing my perceived failures with the entire world. However, I thought on it for a while and decided that I should write about it, that maybe writing about it would help me sort through some of my negative emotions and that it is important for people (and by people, I mean me) to accept the bad right along with the good.
I competed in my second powerlifting meet, the RPS Xtreme Xmas Xplosion, on Saturday December the 8th in Columbus, Ohio. After my first meet in April, I played around in the gym with some high volume programming for about eight weeks staying away from the three big lifts. I soon realized that I wasn’t all that motivated by those kinds of workouts and that I really needed a specific goal to work toward. The success of that first meet was still fresh in my mind so when one of my buddies at IFAST mentioned the RPS meet, I decided to make that my new goal.
I started meet training 16 weeks out. Like I said, I hadn’t squatted, benched, or deadlifted since April so the first couple weeks of training were spent regrooving those patterns. I was soon back into the powerlifting mode of less reps and longer recovery times, and my strength was coming back easily. As the weeks went on, my old meet records (200/110/225) became more or less routine numbers for me – especially bench press. I could go to IFAST any day of the week and bench press 110 lbs for a few reps and my 225 lb deadlift was pretty much a given as well working up to a super fast 235 lbs on one max effort occasion. My squat was a little slower coming, but on several different max effort days I hit 200-210 lbs with perfect form and ease.
My successful training along with my 9/9 performance at the meet in April had my confidence sky high going into last Saturday. I was excited to be competing again! There were three other guys from IFAST competing in the meet as well, and I was looking forward to lifting with them and cheering them on. Zach and I made the three hour drive to Columbus on Friday morning so that I could hit one of the early weigh-in times. I wanted to compete in the 132 lb class so that required me to cut a few pounds of weight. I always make cutting weight out to be a big deal, when in reality with Zach’s nutrition knowledge it hasn’t been that hard for me on either occasion. I weighed in at 129.0. Zach and I spent the rest of the day lounging around. We went and watched the movie Lincoln (highly recommended, BTW) and worked on rehydrating and refueling (i.e. eating).
I didn’t sleep great that night, but hell, I am a night-shifter – getting by on little bits of sleep is what I do. When the alarm went off at 6:45, I felt ready to go – the adrenaline and butterflies were already churning. The meet started a little bit after 9:00 am, and come to find out I was first up – for EVERY SINGLE LIFT. I had seen the roster before the meet so I knew I was one of only five women lifting and that I was the only lifter in my weight class. I knew I was going to be the smallest one there, but my ego wouldn’t let me believe that I was really going to be the weakest as well. I kept thinking, “Surely, at least some of my numbers are better than the other women’s.” Like I said, my confidence was on full blast. Needless to say, that was reality check #1 for the day. I was indeed the smallest and indeed the weakest lifter – by A LOT. The other four women competing were incredibly strong! A couple of them were attempting to qualify for the Arnold! I know, I know – powerlifting is a competition against yourself, it is just you versus the bar. Well, anyone who knows me knows that all of life is a competition for me. (It’s a major character flaw, I know, I am working on it.)
Anyway, back to the meet, I was first up and my mind-set at that point was, “Go out there, squat like you mean it, and get this meet started off right!” No problem. My squat opener was 185 lbs, and I smoked it. Squat attempt two was 210 lbs, and after a horrible, lopsided set-up (and a pretty ugly squat pattern), I got three white lights. I attempted 225 lbs for my third lift, which would have been a 15 lb all time PR (and a 25 lb meet PR), but I couldn’t pull it off. Despite having a much better set-up, I just wasn’t able to keep my tightness out of the hole and use that to help me stand up. I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to hit my ultimate goals for the day, which were to go 9/9 and total 600 lbs. I was bummed, but not terribly. I was ready to move on and hit some big bench and deadlift numbers.
Bench warm-ups were awesome! My confidence was back on blast, and I went out and hit a fairly easy 110 lb opener. Attempt number two, was 120 lbs – a number that I had hit on probably five separate occasions in the gym. However, on my way out to the platform, I collided with one of the loaders who stepped backwards just as I was charging out. No worries. It didn’t hurt, and I really don’t think it threw me off all that much, but that lift was going nowhere. When you watch the video, you can see my right side just basically collapse underneath the bar. I walked back stage majorly pissed off. “How the f*** did I just get dominated by 120 freaking lbs?” I tried to calm down and channel that rage into my third attempt. But this time, in my charge out to the platform, I tripped and almost fell flat on my face. Another f-word came out (only the second of many that day), and I sat on the bench for a couple seconds to try to shake it off before rolling back to lift. Despite my effort to regain my composure, attempt number three was a repeat of attempt two. My right side just caved. At this point, I was beyond furious with myself and also embarrassed. I should have been able to bench 120 lbs with no trouble, I didn’t even get a chance to try for 125 lbs, and, maybe the worst thing of all, 110 lbs was exactly the same number I had hit in my last meet. I had not made any improvement. All of the long hours in the gym, all of the hard work… and I had nothing more to show for it.
It was a long wait before deadlifts started, and I definitely needed that time to get myself together. There was a lot of inner dialogue going on in my head. I was desperately trying to fight back against the negative phrases running through my head like “sophomore slump” and “wasted weekend”. I was trying so hard to tell myself to shake it off, to put bench behind me, and to focus on the deadlift – all while fighting back tears. Zach had went to grab some lunch so I sat in the back of the audience and watched the big guys in the second and third flights bench. By the time that Zach got back, I was feeling somewhat better. I had met a super nice guy from Detroit and had been chatting with him, which had given me someone else to listen to besides my damn voice in my head. My feelings of disappointment had not gone away, but I was no longer on the verge of tears.
My deadlift opener was 215 lbs, and I hit it no problem. My weak point on the deadlift is getting the bar off the floor. I pull sumo. So once I break the floor, I am able to pop my hips through really fast. My second attempt was 235 lbs. I had hit 235 lbs easily at IFAST so I really wasn’t that nervous about the actual lift itself. I was still dealing with some negativity in my head though thinking that if I couldn’t pull 235 then I would end up with the exact same total as my first meet and that I would actually end up with a lower deadlift that my first meet’s 225. I tried to focus on the lift though telling myself that once I broke the floor not to give up on it because I can always get my hips through. Just break the f-ing floor… I am still not really sure what I did wrong on my second attempt. Zach thinks that it looks like my stomach sagged a little bit on my set up like I wasn’t completely tight and didn’t have that circumferential air that I need. The result was a complete staple. The bar didn’t budge. You can see the total look of defeat as I realize that I am not going to make that lift and that I am not going to get a chance to pull 250 lbs. Back stage, I was again just completely demoralized. Everybody that had seen my first pull was asking how the second one went, and I think they were all just as shocked as I was that 215 had been so easy and that I couldn’t even move 235. I had one more chance to pull 235 on my third attempt and so much (at least in my mind) to lose. I was beyond nervous as I walked up to the platform, but I just got as tight as I possibly could and pulled. You cannot believe the relief I had when I felt myself break the floor. I thought I actually smiled when it happened because I knew then that all I had to do was drive my hips through. I did it. Three white lights, and immediate relief that I hadn’t gotten a worse deadlift number and that the meet was over.
I ended up 5/9 on Saturday with a 210 squat, 110 bench, and a 235 deadlift for a 555 lb total, which is 20 lbs more than my first meet’s total. I am not happy with those numbers. I know that on any given day I can walk into IFAST and make those numbers happen. It’s a whole different ballgame when you are up there on the platform, under the bright lights, in front of lots of people. I have never been a performer. Performance anxiety has always gotten the best of me. I have tried to overcome that many times in my life even going to see a sports psychologist for a while in high school. So the question is: Do I keep on trying? Do I continue to fight these demons and make myself get back on the platform? If I say no – that I am content to just lift at IFAST and do max effort lifts there – will I really be able to suppress the urge to compete again? At this point, I don’t know. What I do know is that I left some pounds on that platform on Saturday, and that fact isn’t going to leave my brain anytime soon.
Going forward, I know what I need to work on: 1) upper back strength (Zach says that since my upper back is still fairly weak, I am not able to use those muscles to effectively stabilize myself to actually allow myself to use my chest muscles on bench), 2) hamstring and glute strength (probably in the form of some deficit and conventional deadlifts), and 3) core stability.
I have to say thank you to my husband, Zach Moore, for all the time and effort he puts into helping me train and for having confidence in me that I sometimes can’t seem to find myself. I want to congratulate IFAST client Gabe Landis and IFAST intern Andrew Meadows on competing in their first meet and for doing so well! Also, huge congrats to former IFAST intern Stevie Gabrielsen on his 85 lb total PR this weekend! All three of these guys have written about their meet experiences (click their names above), and I encourage you to check them out and give them the props they deserve.
Thanks so much, Emme. If any of you ladies, or men, are interested in lifting weights but not sure how to get started, then check out my series on “How To Get Started Lifting Weights”, or contact me if you would like online coaching. I also plan to come out with an ebook on the topic so keep on the lookout.
Have a great holiday!!