Monthly Archives: January 2014

The 1st PTC Perth Cup: Strength Through Pain

1556422_10151916862112568_1904632927_oThe annual PTC Perth cup is a 2 day event held at Coventry Village in Morley. This was its premiere, and it was easily the most well-run Powerlifting comp I have ever been involved with. The platform itself was placed central to the market square, and was fortunately surrounded by the air-conditioning ducts. Outside was a blistering 39 degrees, so the competitors were very fortunate to have this prominent indoor location. It drew a serious crowd, which was also well-catered for with a one hundred-seat arrangement, directly facing the stage, and plenty of other seating provided by the various al fresco cafes and restaurants surrounding.

The inimitable Adam Coe had the microphone for most of the weekend, and demonstrated once again that he’s the best at wielding it; heckling lifters coming late to the platform, spotting champions of yesteryear in the audience… and occasionally making chit-chat with the hangry-looking heavyweights who wandered passed, on their way to weigh-in.

Day one saw the ladies and the lightweight lifters, with some truly amazing performances from one of PTC’s only two geared lifters, Darwin. Darwin has a special name, and on the day performed a 290 kilo squat at under 90 kilos bodyweight… and nearly locked out a 300 kilo deadlift.

Day two was comprised of two flights of the heavier mens; under 90s and under 110s were followed by the under 125s and the super heavyweights. I was there with the main intention of breaking a new 1RM deadlift. More specifically, the aim was to showcase a 300+ lift… this unfortunately didn’t happen.

I hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since dinner the night before, which was about two hundred grams of roast lamb and about 250 mls of milk. My slow, steady cut was not as on-track as I’d hoped, and the morning of weigh-ins my home scales read 126.3, so I had resigned myself to not making the under-125 weight division. But my hopes resurfaced when I got on the official scales at 9AM; 125.6. And I’d just been told I had another several hours to make weight.

People have quizzed me on this, and one of my coaches was adamant that I not cut to make this weight class. He saw it as pointless, and to his mind it may well have been; I could have jeopardised strength. But I did have a point, and it is this:

When I decided to change my life, I weighed over 150 kilograms. I don’t know how much over, because the scales only measured up to 150, so for the first several weeks, each time I’d get on the scales it would read 150. 150, 150, 150. Then one day, it wasn’t 150, it was 148-point-something. This was March 30th 2010; the day I started recording weight loss. Not quite four years later, and I wanted to be able to say I had done what I always said I would do, after attaining 125 kilos bodyweight mid-2012. I wanted to ‘walk around’ at a competitive weight for both Strongman and PL, and I wanted to be able to say officially that I had lost at least 25 kilograms of just body fat. I maintained this approximate bodyweight while slowly recomposing myself into a strength athlete. This was not just a weigh-in for a PL comp. Not to me.

Long story short, I made weight.

The disappointment came, as it has in the past, right at the beginning (I was actually reminded of my first event at the 2012 Am Nats); warming up for the squat, I was repping 140 and my left knee (fucking left knee this time) started hurting bad. No fluid, but pain. And the right was not much better, if I’m being honest. I had just re-injured myself (or I suppose, more correctly, aggravated an existing injury that had quietened down enough for me to think it had healed) and I hadn’t even unracked my first attempt. I wrapped up, walked out to my already low-balled 180 kilo squat, and hit it nice and deep. I’d like to say it was incredibly comfortable, and to Mr Markopoulos it must have looked it, but in fact it was incredibly painful, and I couldn’t continue in the squat.

Then came the bench press, and I did fairly well but couldn’t lock out my third attempt, which was 160. 145 was pretty strong and smooth, but on 155 I forgot to properly sink my humeral balls, which affected the press. I got it after a brief struggle mid-way from the chest. When I return to PL training (some time after ASM), I can see board press in my future. Board press… and deficits.

My biggest and best lift was already in jeopardy. I was applying a cold pack and wrapping my knees during breaks, just to try and push everything back together before the lift. It works, but only for a little while. My opener – which I stubbornly insisted must be a new personal record – was agonising. While I’ve always been a back-dominant deadlifter, my back had virtually zero assistance today. I was stiff-legging my warmups to, again, save my knees for the big pulls. It went up, to three white lights… and I had not enough left in the tank for the 305 that myself and Adam Coe had decided would be my second attempt. The angry squid was especially angry today, and I wasn’t prepared for it, but it did distract me from my throbbing kneecaps. It did not help with the lift itself. I was so whacked, I was leaking from the eyes and nose, and my setup suffered as a consequence. All piffling excuses for the fact that I just fucked up my 300+ kilo deadlift; a milestone I’ve been chasing since I pulled 260* at the Strongman Amateur Nationals in October 2012. I’ve been held back by injury and surgery and rehab. I’ve been held back by poor timing; by diligent and sensible programming; by the tenet that you never test 1 rep maxes in training. Now I’ve been held back by weak knees and not opening just a little lighter.

But I’m not overly concerned, not about that, at least. Right now my main focus is on getting my knees fixed so I can get on with training for Australia’s Strongest Man. And not that it matters, but I did walk away with a GPC gold medallion, taking first in my weight class (and putting up better numbers than the one competitor in the under 140s above me). The under 110s was where it was at though – some very impressive stuff from PTC’s own Tim Tomkinson (pictured far right, being bombed by Asha) and several other lifters, some travelling from as far as the Dungeon Powerlifting gym in Bunbury to compete today.

1526569_660020930706461_726232577_nIt was an utterly awesome experience, and some poignant moments were shared by the PTC family, who witnessed an all-round, record-setting performance from one of its youngest (and rowdiest), Brian Cook. The day was overshadowed by the tragic news that the Rucci’s father, whose health has been poor for some time now, had suffered a turn for the worse and was currently in a critical condition in hospital. Aaron Doyle, the third name behind PTC Perth, was brought close to tears when he took the mic during the award ceremony to advise why Dan and Paul had had to leave so suddenly. Despite their notable absence, the Perth Cup continued on without a hitch; a further testament to the many PTC crew who were running everything, on and off the platform.

There will, of course, be more pictures to come. Just as soon as I purloin the best ones I can find on Facebook.

Squat: 180 kilograms (injured)
Bench: 155 kilograms PR
Deadlift: 295 kilograms PR

*no… it was only 260. I planned 275 for my next one, but didn’t get it

Pull Thursday: 617 is a Stupid Number

WHICH is why in Australia (and virtually everywhere lifting is taken seriously) we use kilograms. 280 is a much better number than 617. Pfft. Pounds make lifts sound bigger than they are. But for me, a triple of 280 is a new kind of strong. The platforms were all taken up with Oly lifters tonight (including Gabor, my friend from WA Strongman, who gave me my salts), so I moved over behind the monolift, on it’s custom-built platform; PTC Perth’s new centre-stage.

Remember, my official, conventional deadlift 1RM is 290 kilos. Tripling 280 is very encouraging (even if they were all stiff-legged and the last one was rough and a little ramped). At the cup, 300+ is definitely in the bag… so long as I handle my cut properly.

My reference to my cutting approach in yesterday’s post garnered more discussion than I was expecting. No, this isn’t something I’ve read about other people doing, per se; it’s just something that works for me. Milk is an excellent food product due to it’s macronutrient ratio, and using it as a staple for my base daily intake seems sensible to me, as I have no dairy allergy, thank jeebus! Love me some ice cream.

This Saturday is going to be as hot as buggery, and I won’t be using it for SM events, at least not proper heavy stuff. In this last week before the Cup I intend to have just one more squat session, and then rest. If I can get that squat session in this weekend, all the better for my comp prep.

warmup w/bands

70 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 3
200 kgs x 2
220 kgs x 1
250 kgs x 1
270 kgs x 1
280 kgs / 617 lbs x 3 PR

Kroc rows /KBs
left and right
48 kgs x 10
48 kgs x 10
56 kgs x 8
64 kgs x 5 TPR

Press Wednesday: Solid Growth

muscle update 1IT’S SESSIONS like this one that restore my focus and drive to keep going. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot tonight, as I’ve begun cutting this week (back to subsisting on 2 litres of milk per day, with one calorie-controlled evening meal), and was feeling pretty deflated as I chugged my pre-WO and wrote out my required bench numbers.

On the subject of cutting; what I’m doing is nothing too extreme. The reliance on milk to regulate my caloric intake is an approach I’ve used in the past, with a deal of success. I intend to get my weight down to under 125, and hopefully closer to 120, in time for the Perth Cup January 18th & 19th (just 10 days away!).

Mr Hyde evidently did it’s work tonight. I found the energy I needed, and then some. I might have even had a second rep of my money set on bench, but I lost all tension at the top of the first press when I extended a little too far and almost dropped it back in the rack.

I’m feeling pretty good about a possible 160 kilo bench on the day.

Overhead press was also winning tonight, though I had to drop the axle after that last rep… the thumbless grip makes things fun. But it feels great to finally be comfortably repping that 100 kilogram benchmark, with no complaints. Now on to 110… and 120…

Tomorrow night is my last lift before the comp. I wonder if I’ll remember to wear my belt… I hope I do, as I’m planning on building to 280 for a triple.

Erm, I don’t do this often, as I’m not all that fussed anymore about my appearance, but here’s a visual update on my body recomp. I’m 130 right now (or near enough), so I’ve definitely looked leaner. Pretty big though. I didn’t take any of my legs (and no I don’t measure myself regularly if at all), as I haven’t been able to squat heavy in a long time and I am pretty sure they’ve shrunk since the last time I felt like exposing them to a camera.

muscle update 2muscle update 3

warmup w/bands & DBs

Bench press
60 kgs x 8
100 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 2
140 kgs x 2
150 kgs x 1 PR

OHP w/Axle (strict)
30 kgs x 8
50 kgs x 5
70 kgs x 3
90 kgs x 1
100 kgs x 6 PR

Dips @ 129.5 kgs BW
2 sets of 10

Klokov press
20 kgs x 15
30 kgs x 15

Squat Monday: Next

NOT GONNA dwell on this session; everything was tight and felt rough, and there was no point to going heavier and risking further aggravating my glute strain/tear/whatever it is, or my knees, which are still sore but at least work properly now.

warmup w/bands

Squats with barbell
20 kgs x 10
80 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 5
150 kgs x 5

Good Mornings w/cambered
50 kgs x 20
70 kgs x 10
90 kgs x 10
90 kgs x 10

First Events for 2014: Fizzle

RETURNING to Strongman events training in 2014, after being sidelined from them for several weeks, was pretty weak. I got either a strain or minor tear in my right glute, during my first yoke run. I stretched, and thought I was warmed up enough, but just a couple of steps carrying the frame caused a little ‘snap’. I persisted and it, predictably, didn’t get better, so I had to quit the yoke.

From there I moved on to (what would have been) my second press routine for the week, but couldn’t really mess with the log or axle for the same reason; any tension through the lower body aggravated it. Even the strict pressing I did get done was a little pained. I didn’t try anything ground-breaking today… that pissed me off, as I’d started the day feeling pretty much 100% again, and ready to do some work. With my right tendon fully healed, I was also looking forward to some heavy sack carries.

Let’s see what happens when I finally squat again this coming Monday night. I’m not predicting anything amazing.

warmup w/bands

Yoke walk
135 kgs x 25 meters x 2
215 kgs x 25 meters x 2
255 kgs x 15 meters

OHP w/swiss bar (strict)
35 kgs x 8
55 kgs x 5
75 kgs x 5
85 kgs x 3
95 kgs x 5

17.5 kgs x 15 reps x 3

Klokov press
20 kgs x 15
30 kgs x 10
40 kgs x 10
45 kgs x 10

New Strength, New Year, New PTC Perth

PERFORMANCE Training Centre, Perth, has a big new location on Camboon road in Noranda. Three times the space, with a mezzanine for the Rucci brother’s offices and a section devoted to massage and physiotherapy. The training area itself is impressive, and I’m looking forward to making it my new home.

The new location and, of course, recounting our New Year’s eve celebrations were popular topics, and I spent more time than I should have chatting. But I did get work done… not quite the work I intended. I’m happy enough with the outcome though.

And to think I’d been watching KK pulling 400 kilos from 4 inch blocks – belt less – for inspiration just prior to my money set. To be fair I got a whole bunch of nothing done while psyching up to my money set too, including wandering round the immense new facility, looking for a potent bottle of salts as mine had expired. Once I found one, I rushed back to the platform and conveniently grabbed one of PTC’s resident artists, Rod, to assist. With my wraps secure, I thought I was good to go… and then realised I hadn’t put on my belt!

Fuck it, I thought, just lift. I pulled nearly 600 pounds for a triple, raw, no belt, before I thought it best to stop. I had been aiming for 5 reps with the belt, though 4 reps would still have been legit progression. And to be honest I felt like I had at least one more rep in me tonight. It’s a scary thing, to feel what your spine does while pulling that much weight completely unassisted. It’s fucking power.

While I have been very, very slack over the holiday period, the good news is that my right tendon appears to have completely healed up in that time. I am looking forward to heavier Kroc rows, and (finally!) some pull-ups in my programming this year.

warmup w/bands

70 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 8
170 kgs x 3
200 kgs x 1
230 kgs x 1
260 kgs x 1
270 kgs x 3 No Belt! TPR

Kroc rows w/kettle bell
left 40 kgs x 10
right 40 kgs x 10
left 40 kgs x 10
right 40 kgs x 10
left 48 kgs x 10
right 48 kgs x 10
left 56 kgs x 10
right 56 kgs x 9 TPR