Success at the 2013 APF/AAPF Raw Challenge

Success at the 2013 APF/AAPF Raw Challenge

Dec 14, 2013


In a previous post I mentioned that I was coaching two female lifters for the 2013 APF/AAPF Raw Challenge (held in Willowbrook, Illinois).  Both had about 6 weeks of training leading up to the meet and had decided to do it together (moral support).  There were two coached sessions per week – bench on Friday evenings and squats/deadlift on Sunday mornings with Melissa doing weight training during the week and Branka doing ‘boot camp’ cardio-style exercise and a personal trainer during the week (three sessions plus the two).  Melissa at 42 qualified as a Master 1 lifter in the Unlimited Class and Branka a Master 3 in the 123 Class.


Both were nervous leading up to the meet, but not as much as their coach.  As with most beginning competitors neither of the women had experience with the ‘calls’ during the lifts.  Also, only 6 weeks experience with a monolift was challenging.  The advantage they had over other lifters was that they were able to train on the meet monolift for the two weeks prior to the meet.  The rest of Team Stone moved over to the standard monolift to allow Branka and Melissa to train.

Six weeks is not a lot of time, so we focused on form.  We knew it would not be perfect going into the meet, but the goal was to make sure the lifts were safe.  Warm-ups were quick.  However, the biggest challenge – both Melissa and Branka were the first lifters in each lift!


The 2013 APF/AAPF Raw Power Challenge was held on December 8, 2013 and had one full flight of bench only starting at 9am and then we were able to get off the start of the full power meet right at the planned 10:30am time!  Branka opened with the bar (25kg) and Melissa a comfortable 55kg.  To put this into perspective – six weeks earlier Branka was just able to squat 30lbs with knees in and had never used a monolift, Melissa was doing a 45lb bar with just a little weight on it and had very little experience with a monolift.

The six weeks leading up to the meet – Friday and Sunday only program:

  • 5×5’s for squat and bench for two weeks
  • triples on the deadlift for two weeks
  • One week determine max lifts
  • Another week of 5x5s and triples
  • Max efforts
  • Openers (week before)

One and a half weeks prior to the meet – stop cardio – and the week prior to the meet – stop all external weight training.

During the meet – Squats went as planned with only small adjustments to advancing weight.  (Secret – do not tell your lifters how much weight is on the bar and even right after, do not tell them that you drove them above their gym PRs.  I made that mistake and the bench suffered).  Bench did not go as planned with Branka only succeeding on her first attempt and Melissa only succeeding on her second attempt.  I then determined the best approach would be to finish strong with a solid (and very light) deadlift.

Above: Branka Stemack

Above: Melissa Gibson

Branka took first in APF and AAPF Masters 3 and managed to fill in 8 raw records.  Melissa took second in APF Masters 1 and filled in state raw records.  Both are now planning their next meets and we are talking about the road to each!


  • Squat: 25kg, 30kg, 35kg
  • Bench: 25kg, 27.5kg, 27.5kg
  • Deadlift: 40kg, 50kg, 55kg


  • Squat: 55kg, 65kg, 75kg
  • Bench: 40kg, 50kg, 55kg
  • Deadlift: 80kg, 90kg, 100kg

And – ugh… two months of the doc asking me to do NOTHING with the leg has definitely got me well back into SHW.  Looking at the pics – time to get rid of my 3 board back to a 1 or 2 board (yeah, if you got that, you are a geared lifter).



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