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What I learned from a Mock Powerlifting Meet

This weekend was extremely busy at Summit Strength. We had our first ever Nutrition Seminar, a presentation from Stronger Faster Healthier (their products are here, and we are an official retailer) and also a packed out box for Saturday class. After all of that, I also was scheduled to do a mock powerlifting meet, in order to establish new max lifts in the big three, back squat, deadlift, and the bench press. Here are the lessons I learned.

1. Don’t spend 4 hours on your feet before competing. Even if it is a mock competition. I hit new PR’s on everything, but I definitely felt drained going into the lifts. Coaching for an hour, presenting for another 90 minutes, and then hanging out talking with friends was a lot of time on my feet before attempting max effort weightlifting. I was under the assumption that because the volume is so low in a powerlifting format I would be fine. I was wrong. Be sure to be well rested and totally fresh before any type of testing. My squat, deadlift, and bench all went up, but I felt like I left something on the table.

2. Your central nervous system (CNS) is going to be all sorts of whacked out afterward. Ok, here is the deal on the CNS, in layman’s terms: it handles your ability to get stronger, train harder, and ultimately improve. Basically, it is your strength center, and it gets taped into whenever your lifts get really heavy. While the way the CNS works is a lot more complicated than that, that’s what matters for our purposes. I went over 100% max effort on three back to back lifts, and I could feel it in my brain. I’m not even over exaggerating, my brain hurt. It was like I had no energy left and was totally running on fumes. I ended up getting home around 5 pm and falling asleep on my couch. I normally only feel like this after Hero WODs with CrossFit, or long twoaday sessions. I was shocked that less than 50 repetitions in a day did anything like that to me. You can read about CNS Overtraining in detail here.

3. You need more recovery than usual afterward. This plays off of point number 2, but the amount of recovery your body needs to get over that sort of effort is greater than your typical workout. I expected to not be very hungry given the low volume, but I was incredibly hungry for a solid 36 hours afterward. It was only after breakfast this morning that I felt actually full after a meal. I tried to listen to my body and eat a little bit more carbohydrate to help my muscles recover, but it was tough when I knew my volume wasn’t high. I’m guessing I did the right thing, however, because I’m feeling much better today.

One final thought before parting, this experience definitely made me appreciate what powerlifters go through more than I did before. Perhaps the biggest lesson I learned from this was just a reminder to get out and try new sports. They are all difficult for different reasons. While some are more mentally taxing and others are physically demanding, the people who excel in any field are truly impressive.

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