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IPA Iron House Powerlifting Classic
Contest Report

By Gary F. Zeolla

Two first place trophies, SIX IPA World Records,
9 for 9 with 27 white lights!!!


On April 12, 2003 I entered the "Iron House Powerlifting and Bench Press Classic" in Newark, Ohio, hosted by Iron House Gym and sanctioned by the International Powerlifting Association (IPA). I competed in the 114 pound weight class in the men's amateur, open and masters (40-44) divisions. My training leading up to this contest is detailed at Training Routine and Cycle (2/5/03 - 4/12/03).

The best word to describe how the contest went is PERFECTION! Everything went just as I had hoped and planned. And making things even more exciting, this was my first contest in 21 years, and I had spent the better part of those 21 years dealing with one health problem after another.

My perfect contest began at weigh-ins the day before when I weighed in at 113.5 pounds. I barely slept that night, but I had slept very well the whole week before, so I felt great while warming up in the morning.


My attempts at the contest went as follows:





















Now for some details.

I could tell at warm-ups that I was going to have a good day. I just felt good. My first attempt then flew up easily. Three whites, and a big relief to get that first attempt in. The second attempt felt just as good.

My third attempt was then for the IPA master's world record. Three whites, and I got it with strength to spare! I might have been good for about 5-10 more pounds.

My first attempt on benches was enough to break the IPA master's record, and it felt easy. My original plan was to then go 185, 195. But the 175 was so easy I went with 190 on my second attempt thinking I might be able to get 200 on my third. But the 190 proved to be rather difficult, so I stayed with 195 for my third attempt, and I'm glad I did. It was a max lift. I fought it every inch of the way, wobbling quite a bit on the way up, but got it, and with three white lights!

As with benches, my opener was enough to break the IPA masters record. It also gave me enough to break the IPA master's total record. And as with benches, my opener felt easy. It just flew up off of the floor.

My second attempt was then enough to break both the IPA open deadlift and total records. It was difficult, but I knew I still had some strength left.

At this point, I had already broken all six of the records I had hoped to break. So for my final lift of the day, I went for 350 to give me a greater than triple bodyweight deadlift and a 7.5 times bodyweight total. And as with my final bench, this was a max lift. Again, it was fight, but I got it!

When the three whites came up, I jumped so high in the air I thought I would never come down. I can't express how excited I was! 9 for 9 with 27 white lights in my first contest in 21 years! I never even came close to that kind of perfection when I competed in college.

Other Details

As for the trophies, they actually weren't that big of a deal given I was the only person in my weight class. But still, I got two trophies: one for winning the 114's open division and the other for winning the 114's master's division.

I knew I would be the only 114 pounder going in, but this was good as it enabled me to focus on breaking the records. And except for my first two squat attempts, the announcer was announcing that I was attempting an IPA world record on every one of my attempts. It made for quite an impression on the audience.

Specifically, I broke the IPA men's, amateur, master's world squat, bench, deadlift, and total records, and the IPA men's amateur, open world deadlift and total records. What a perfect day!!!!


My Competitive Gear

I had several problems getting my gear. First, it was sent out late, and then UPS "lost" my package. I live in Pennsylvania, but the package ended up in Utah! And when the package finally arrived, my deadlift suit was missing! But I called the company (Crain Muscle World), and they sent it second-day delivery, and UPS didn't lose it this time, so I had it in time to use for one workout prior to the contest.

And once I got all of my gear, it worked great. The straps on the Genesis squat and deadlift suits were a bit too long, but I was able to get them altered in time for the contest. And I'm glad I did. I was a bit disappointed with the deadlift suit when I first tried it in practice as it didn't seem to help much. But with the straps shortened it did seem to help pull me up and back, just like I was hoping.

I had some problems with the Genesis knee wraps initially as they were rather slippery, and I had a hard time holding onto them. But once I got used to them, and with chalking them, I was able to wraps my knees very tight, and they really gave me rebound in my knees. And between the squat suit and wraps, I had no problems sinking my squats. In fact I found in the one workout I had with the gear before my contest that with the suit and wraps, the lower I went the more the gear helps to spring me out of the bottom. So at the contest I dropped fast and low with the confidence that the gear would spring me up. And I know there was no doubt about my depth.

My Genesis bench shirt, however, I was not able to get altered in time for the contest. The arms are too loose, so it didn't seem to help that much. But I'm hoping that once I get it altered it will help as well.

The Contest Itself

The contest was very well run. My session began right on time, at 9:00 a.m. and was over by 2:00 p.m.. The second session began at 3:00 p.m. and was over by 9:00 p.m.. Sunday's session was running longer though since there was an "extra" flight of benchers for the bench only portion of the contest. And I was getting tired, with a 3 1/2 hour drive home, so I left before benches were finished. So I'm not sure when the heavies finished up. But I was glad I stuck around long enough to see someone squat a grand! 1015 to be precise.

One thing I really liked about the meet was all of the attempts were recorded on an Excel spreadsheet, projected onto a wall, with the lifter that was "up" being highlighted. So the lifters just had to look up at the wall to see when they were scheduled to lift.

And a nice touch was the heavy metal music blaring in the background. AC/DC was cranked up when I was deadlifting. I loved it!

Full contest results are posted on the hosting gym's Web site. See Iron House Gym.

The Future

My next contest will be the IPA World Powerlifting Championships on August 8-10, 2003 in Harrisburg, PA. I know it sounds crazy, planning on entering IPA's world championship for just my second contest in 21 years, but I did just break six IPA world records. And with the contest being held in Harrisburg this year, and me living just on the other side of the state, near Pittsburgh, about 3 1/3 hours away, I just can't resist.

Also, there is one IPA world record left that I didn't break at this contest, the open squat record. It's only 320, and I had been thinking prior to this meet that I might try it on a fourth attempt. In the IPA you can break a world record by as little as one pound. But, as I indicated above, I felt I was good for maybe 310-315, but probably not 321. And besides, I didn't want to risk tiring myself out for benches and deadlifts by taking a fourth attempt on squats. So I passed on trying it at this meet, but it does leave me the goal of breaking it at World's. (Note: the open bench record is 280; way out of my reach).

And not only will I be competing at World's, but I will be judging as well. I was talking to Mark Chaillet, the president of the IPA, at weigh-ins, and I mentioned to him that when I competed in college I often stuck around after the lightweights were done lifting in the mornings to judge the heavyweights in the afternoon. Then after my performance at this contest, Chaillet asked me if I would be interested in being a judge at World's after I was done lifting. I guess a 27 white light performance is a good indication that I know what a good lift is. So I took and passed (with a 100%) the test to become a certified judge with the IPA.

After taking a few days, I started training for World's. My new routine is posted at Training Routine and Mini-Cycles (4/19/03 - 8/8/03)

And finally, with all I've been through health-wise, it truly is miraculous that I am able to powerlift again, and I praise God that I have recovered enough that I am able to do so.

Iron House Powerlifting Classic - 2003 - Contest Report. Copyright 2003 By Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Back Pain

    The first book is geared towards the beginner to intermediate powerlifter. It presents sound training, competition, dietary, and supplement advice to aid the reader in starting and progressing in the sport of powerlifting. The second book details how I overcame years of crippling low back and was able to return to the sport of powerlifting.

Starting and Progressing in Powerlifting: A Comprehensive Guide to the World's Strongest Sport

Overcoming Back Pain: A Mind-body Solution (Second Edition)

See also this series on Amazon (#ad).

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Contest Reports

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