Yesterday I filled out an entry form for the first powerlifting meet I will do in 2018. It takes place in early April. I had to grapple with the fact that my nagging injuries will, barring a major miracle, have not healed so I while I enrolled for the traditional powerlifting (i.e. the 3 events) I also will compete in the stand alone bench press. Therefore if my injuries still preclude from me competing normally I can still compete for bench press. It also made me realize that, damn it, at 51 years old I shouldn’t train like a 25-year-old. Maybe all those world-class powerlifting coaches with decades of experience knew what they were talking about after all. I can say this, while I cranked volume, weight and intensity of my training to 11 last fall, there was a good 6 week period that I felt bullet-proof. I was hitting some serious numbers in squat and bench, and finally edging towards not embarrassing in deadlift. Weighted dips, pull-ups, overhead presses, heavy rack pulls, etc…I was going to town. Until, of course, it all came crashing down when I seriously f’ed up my left rotator cuff – 3 weeks before the competition. I could not lift my arm above my waist without pain for a few days, and then it eased quite a bit. So naturally I didn’t bench any more but continued to squat which, in retrospect, was really, really stupid. So here I am a few months later, with no real end in sight regarding my rotator cuff. The silver lining is that I am doing a lot of safety bar squats but, damn, I miss low bar squats so much more than I’d ever imagined. The take-away lesson from this is while I may be immature, I need to respect that my physical manifestation on this mortal coil is indeed beginning its 6th decade. Sigh.
Women who lift: I love women who lift. I really respect a woman who has realized that getting stronger is where it’s at. I think any woman who picks up any weight is a rock star, but I especially love those who go for it and test their limits by lifting heavy. When I see a woman in a squat rack and she’s loading some weight that is not just for “booty” purposes, I’m intrigued. If she then hits the bench press and proceeds to challenge herself with some real weight, my jaw just about hits the ground. If she proceeds to then pull respectable deadlift numbers, I’d probably look away, do an embarrassed cough and try to find some way to repair my fragile male ego. Seriously, though, every woman I’ve ever known who’s applied herself in the weight room ends up looking awesome and, better yet, feels awesome. That combination is very, very attractive. You know what, I respect the dedication, etc. of figure and/or bikini competitors, but it’s not the same. I want to know what you look like when you’re strong and not starving yourself. A few years ago I dated a former female bodybuilder. She was from the era when female bodybuilders were not roided out monsters but definitely had some muscle. She was more about definition than bulk. You can be feminine and still be noticeably strong. I’ll be honest, there is a limit, at least for me.. Huge shoulders, a big back, and bulging quads, NO. Luckily, that wasn’t her case. (Full disclosure – I don’t think over-developed dudes look great either). Bottom line, athletes, with the exception of marathon runners, are sexy. Food for thought.
Last night I took a few videos of myself was I was lifting alone at the powerlifting club. I did this for 2 reasons. Primarily, I was going for a bench press PR so I wanted proof for them gym haters (kidding of course) that I hit those numbers, but also I realized that, post holidays and birthday, I was carrying a few extra KGs, so I figured seeing myself on video would provide the motivation I required to shed that flab. (NB: the powerlifting club has benches with “protection arms” to catch failed attempts so benching alone is not as risky as it seems. If you don’t have these at your disposal, please, please do not bench press alone. It’s the single riskiest thing you can do in the gym.)
Result – I hit that PR and, daaaaamn, the form was on point. It looked silky smooth, on video, easier that it actually was. On the other hand, I looked like a God-damned beached whale. Bench press angles are far from flattering, and this one was no exception. However, there was no escaping that if would have been a bit less egregious if my belly wasn’t spilling out of my t-shirt. #fatold*%$k#landwhale#layoffthebeer. Not into body shaming, but you got to be honest with yourself.