WPC Worlds 2014 and Goals

WPC Worlds 2014 and Goals

Nov 23, 2014

This article is about my personal adventure leading up to a goal at Worlds.  I am working on another article related to the total Worlds experience which will be up later this week.

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^^Jan Orosz, Team Slovakia and I, Team USA, prior to donning our armor and going into battle at the bench war at WPC Worlds! Oh, look, we have the same barber!

On November 14, 2014, I accomplished my goal of breaking the 500lb bench press barrier with a 501.5lb (227.5kg) bench press which also won the gold in my category at the 2014 WPC World Powerlifting Championships. I should have gone for a final attempt and completed a gym challenge from a teammate to hit 528lbs/240kg, but I was out of gas! Basically, I had set a goal, did all the work around it, but didn’t set the goal high enough!

For the past year I was stuck at 463.5lbs during competition, but had benched well in the 500s during training. At 48 years old, I have at least another 15 years of potentially increasing strength, but had expected to be past this well over a year ago. I had planned that in 2013 I was going to be squatting over 800, benching over 600 and deadlifting over 600, but had a bit of a set back with an injury on June 4, 2103 that took me away from these goals and put me on a recovery goal. I did have to skip WPC Worlds in Prague that year and, instead, put my sights on benching at the Amateur WPC at the end of that August.

I accomplished a 308lb bench press with a ruptured patellar tendon and crushed thumb in August of 2013 at AWPC Worlds and began the journey back towards my goals. I set my sight at breaking the 500lb bench press and began training with the intention of returning to full power (squat, benchpress, deadlift) the following summer.

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^^Above: 308lb bench press at 2013 AWPC World Powerlifting Championships – note raised left thumb. Slightly bent leg was the injured leg (red is the scar). Whenever I finished each lift the audience would give me a left thumbs up and cheer! I had plenty of handlers for this one! “Never surrender your goals!”

Life sometimes gets in the way of goals. One of the challenges was that I was not recovering as fast as I should have and the other was the chance to accomplish a life-goal I had set for myself when I was 24 years old – owning a gym. The challenges and exhaustion that went into preparation and moving forward with the business and training kept me at the new bench press limit of 463.5lbs. All attempts at higher weights resulted in failure, which drove me to train harder and seek advice from teammates and what is generally referred to as the ‘brotherhood of iron.’

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Received great advice from everyone, which is one of the benefits of this sport, and some special equipment from a Canadian Powerlifter who was watching me at the World Bench Press Championships. The team and other lifters helped by getting behind my goals and pushing me forward. My site coach and business partner, Joe Atef, who has also had a few setbacks following a competition at the Arnold Classics (XPC Championship Powerlifting) earlier in 2014, kept me up and on-track. The goal was set for November 14, 2014, at the WPC Worlds to break the 500lb barrier with a gym-challenge from a teammate that either he (Paul Rupright) or I would hit 523lbs. So, the stretch goal was 523lbs.

Everything was built around the goal. While there were plenty of distractions, mostly other accomplishments, and stresses related to daily life and work, the ‘grind’ continued. I managed to hit 500lbs exactly, in perfect conditions, two weeks before the meet. My coach and I decided that I would open at 485lbs/220kg. We arrived two days early to assist other lifters and to help set up one my authors, the Godfather of Powerlifting, Ernie Frantz, at his tabletop where he was meeting with other powerlifters and signing books and memorabilia.

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^^Left: Ernie Frantz, Center – Tony Chirico, Masters Full Power Champion and Thursday Best Lifter (Full Power), Right – Anne Keckler who traveled to West Palm Beach to assist me with Ernie’s table-top for the week.

Well setting up the table-top I managed to incorrectly lift a heavy box of books and, yep, tweaked my shoulder the day before I was to lift. Could the goal now be in danger?

This was my third full World Championship with three bench only World Championships also under my belt. It was an opportunity to meet a lot of friends that I had not seen since 2012 due to missing Prague in 2013. So, I spent time meeting with everyone including some of the strongest men and women in the World! However, I needed to get back and rest the injury.

^^485 lb attempt video

Blew the 485 lb attempt away with no problems. Setup good, bench good, hand-off great! Handlers Joe Atef and Jeff Orr set everything up perfectly!

^^501.5 lb attempt

As perfect a setup as before with great handlers and supporters, how can you go wrong? Well, you have a slow press call (we practice to wait up to 2 seconds, this was far less than that as most will call the press as fast as possible, but still a solid half second), relax at the bottom, and then press hard and feel the arm give away a bit (in the video, the bar slows down). If there is any reverse of motion, you fail. So I pressed down hard on my left heel to bring that side up and managed to generate a huge lower back cramp – but locked out!

I had a choice at this point – do I go for the 523 and risk injury?

Just prior to going on stage I received an invitation to one of the most prestigious powerlifting events in the world – Relentless Minnesota. It is a fundraising event for families with children with potentially fatal illnesses that raises in excess of $200,000 for each of two competitions a year (over $400,000 a year). It was brought up to be my full power ‘come-back’ meet for the support I have given the sport and the event. I was honored and decided to scratch my last attempt and not risk the chance of injuring my shoulder.

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^^Accepting the Gold for USA Bench Press, SHW, Masters 2, Equipped

I got the Gold, met my primary goal, and now get to set the new goals for March 27-28, 2015!

In business, sports and your personal life it is absolutely necessary to set goals! Set the primary and set the stretch goal and constantly strive to meet them! This year I met a 24 year goal of opening my own gym, a post injury goal of beating the 500lb barrier, the goal of being invited to relentless, and many more!

And yes, you CAN have your cake and eat it too!

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^^Picture by Grace Love

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