U.S. Open Reflections

My reflections on the U.S. Open powerlifting meet. Where do I begin?

Let’s just start off by saying that my performance didn’t really go as planned… and I believe it’s 100% the result of trying to prep for a bodybuilding show at the same time. Lesson freaking learned.

Everyone around me told me that I wouldn’t be able to do both and well [swallowing my pride], turns out they were right. I can be quite stubborn and think that anything is possible so long as I put my heart and soul into it, but then theres always that dose of science that stands in my way. I understood the consequences of training both sports, I just thought that if I had enough grit and tenacity that I’d be able to surpass it and achieve the results I wanted. Simply put, I just wasn’t willing to throw away the past 4 months of physique training for a powerlifting competition that may or not pay off in the long run. I wasn’t even sure if I would like powerlifting; I just figured that it’d be fun to compete in a performance-based sport again, get some exposure as an athlete, and use the training as a supplement to my bodybuilding training.

Because my squat, bench and deadlift numbers were pretty good towards the beginning of my bodybuilding prep (when I weighed about 126-127#), the people around me believed that I could be pretty competitive and possibly even podium at the U.S. Open. And maybe that would’ve been the case if I hadn’t continued the cutting phase of my bodybuilding prep. But, like I said, my original plan for this year was to earn my pro card and try to qualify for the 2017 Olympia and I had no desire to halt my progress or not finish what I started. Therefore, I continued to drop weight as planned for my bodybuilding prep.

When I started my 4-week powerlifting prep, I think I weighed about 126lbs. Four weeks later, on meet day, I weighed my lightest so far at 119lbs. Although I looked and felt great, my strength just couldn’t be maintained, no matter how hard I tried.

I failed all of my third attempts at each lift, numbers that I definitely expected myself to hit with no problem. And I really don’t think it was because I was new to the sport, or new to the environment, or any other excuse people want to justify me with. I believe it was completely a result of my drop in weight and limited calories/carbs that I had been sticking to.

As far as the actual event goes, it was interesting to say the least, an eye opener. I really had no clue what to expect. It was similar to Olympic Lifting, which I’ve competed in several times before, just with a lot more aggression and animal-like energy. Like Olympic Lifting, timing your warmups and preparation was crucial- the lifts move pretty quickly with each lifter getting 1 minute to perform their lifts, then maybe 30 seconds for the guys to change the bar weight. The intensity was also similar to Olympic lifting in the fact that you only had once chance to get the lift; there’s just a lot more technicality involved with Olympic Lifting than Powerlifting. Powerlifting is all about raw strength and aggression- the girls I competed against were freaking impressive… and slightly intimidating. I thought I was tough, these girls were on a whole other level.

Another difference was the number of events; Olympic Lifting has 2 events (snatch and clean and jerk), whereas Powerlifting has 3 (squat, bench, deadlift)- by the time it was my turn to deadlift, I was feeling pretty smoked despite the downtime I had between lifts. The fact that you have to turn the switch from 0 to 100 9 separate times throughout the day was surprisingly exhausting; I didn’t expect to be exhausted from that, especially since I’m so used to doing way more volume in a normal training day. It was certainly a humbling experience.

Overall, I walked away from the competition feeling pretty frustrated that I wasn’t able to perform to my expectations. I dedicated so much time and effort, and sacrificed a good chunk of money to take on this powerlifting meet and I question whether it was really worth it… the feeling of regret, a feeling I absolutely hate more than anything in this world.

Although the results were not what I wanted, I still had a great experience- the best part was just being able to bond with some of my teammates and coaches at Kabuki Strength. As I reflect over the weekend, I realize what things in life are actually important to me and make me happy. Its not the podium or the fame as I once thought; instead, its quality relationships with the people closest to you and being grateful for what you have. I’ll always love the pressure and growth you get from competing, but where you finish is not as important as I once thought… placing 1st doesn’t make you happy for long (maybe a few seconds or minutes, if that?). That’s why you truly need to enjoy the process of the daily grind and sacrifice versus thinking that happiness is always on the other side of achievement.

That being said, even though dieting is THE WORST, I’ve really enjoyed the disciplined process of bodybuilding and will do everything I can to bring my best package to stage. I do miss being an “athlete” and having fun with workouts/cardio, so I plan on looking into doing some local CrossFit competitions just to keep the journey exciting. But for now, all eyes are on my Junior Nationals Physique Show June 15-16 in Chicago, IL. Clear eyes. Full hearts. Can’t Lose.

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