Training for the U.S. Open Powerlifting Meet – Week 1 Review

Two  weeks ago, I was invited to compete at the U.S. Open powerlifting meet on April 14-15 in San Diego, CA. It was such an honor to be invited to such a prestigious event that I immediately jumped at the opportunity and went all in without really putting much thought behind it. I have never competed in a powerlifting meet, and here I am striving to be competitive with the best lifters in the world, and I have less than 5 weeks to do it. The funny thing is… I think I can do it.


My goal is to podium in my weight class, but a first place medal is not out reach either. In order to podium, I believe I’ll have to total 950 or better. My goal lifts are: 365 squat, 220 bench, 365 deadlift. I’ll be squatting high bar with wraps, and pulling sumo for the deadlift. In order for me to achieve these lifts, I’ll need to put everything I have into every training session, on top of training  and prepping as hard as I can for bodybuilding- this is not an easy task to say the least.

I honestly don’t think I realized what I was getting myself into when I made the decision to accept the invite. I tend to think that I am some invincible super-human that can do anything (such as train powerlifting while prepping for the biggest bodybuilding show of my life) as long as I put my mind to it;  while that may be partially true, I am constantly reminded that my body is not the machine I think it is or want it to be. My mind is obviously far more stronger than my body will ever be- that can be a good thing or bad thing depending on how smart or stubborn I am with my recovery. Needless to say, its been a challenge trying to balance both my bodybuilding and powerlifting training sessions over the past week, and I can only assume it’ll get harder as the meet gets closer and my calories become fewer.

Balancing Powerlifting and Bodybuilding

Since I only have 5 total weeks to train for the meet (including a deload week), my PL training plan is pretty aggressive as far as intensity and volume; it’s nothing I’m not used to or afraid of, but the intensity has been an adjustment and the fatigue from the heavy lifts definitely makes it a challenge to put the same amount of intensity and effort into my BB training.

I train powerlifting 5 days a week: squat 4 days, deadlift 3 days, and bench 4 days.

I train bodybuilding 6 days a week, split up in to back/biceps, delts/triceps, and legs. In addition to the training, my calories are being cut each week and cardio has been increasing slowly each week as well.

I learned very quickly that in order to put a decent amount of effort into both sports, I have to break up my powerlifting and bodybuilding training into 2 separate sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. When I accepted the invite to the US Open, I told myself and everyone around me that I was still going to prioritize BB as it was my original goal; although I’m doing the best I can with both sports, BB has definitely taken the back seat in the past week, simply because I need most of my energy first thing in the morning to hit the big lifts.

Hardest Part So Far

Out of all the lifts, squatting with wraps has been the biggest adjustment and most challenging phase of this training. Mondays are my squat with wraps day, and they are THE WORST. Not only does it take me an insane amount of time to complete the work required, but it’s also some of the most excruciating pain I’ve ever experienced (and I like to think that I’m on the tougher side of the spectrum). If I were to compare it to something, it would be that initial shock when you hop into an ice bath or the adrenaline rush you get when you break a bone- its kinda like that.. my breath gets taken away, my body freezes, my breathing becomes shallow, and I have to just suck it up and find my own happy place to get through it. Apparently, my legs should de-sensititize the more I use the wraps, so I’m looking forward to that.


Other than the wraps and the ridiculous amount of time everything takes, I’ve actually really enjoyed the the training stye. It’s been fun to hit the low rep schemes of 1-2 reps, and its exciting to see your numbers go up each time. All in all, the first week of training for the U.S. Open went pretty well and I’m right on track to hitting the numbers I want.

Over the next few weeks, the hard part will be making sure that I’m managing my recovery properly so that I can continue to progress. Besides foam rolling, getting 8 hours of sleep and drinking 1 gallon water each day, I’m just trying to stay in tune with what my body is telling me- if I feel like my CNS is trashed, then I’ll stick with lighter weights for BB, or I’ll switch up the split order of my BB training. I think that feeling out each day and being able to adjust on the fly is what’s gonna allow me to train at my fullest potential for both sports. Looking forward to how Week 2 goes!

Comments 1

  1. I’ve always had a problem with traditional periodization methods that dedicate a good portion of a training cycle to hypertrophy with high-rep sets, because I’ve found they don’t translate quickly to low-end strength, and for me and many other advanced lifters, the absolute loads involved are still very stressful on connective tissue.

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