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WNPF Western Pennsylvania Powerlifting Championships - 2006

By Gary F. Zeolla

I competed in the WNPF (World Natural Powerlifting Federation) Western Pennsylvania Championships, April 8, 2006 in Beaver Falls, PA at 123s in the raw division, open and masters (45-49). For my final workouts leading up to this contest, see Full Workout Logs: Starting 2/6/06: Rotation 4 of 4.

This contest was only an hour’s drive from my home, so it was the first time I entered a contest that didn’t require a hotel stay. But I did have to drive out twice, once the night before for weigh-ins and then for the contest. But my dad was gracious enough to come with me and do the driving for both, so that saved me from having to drive for four hours.


I have been competing at 114s for the past three years. But ten days before the contest my weight was 123.4, nine pounds above the limit for 114s but just below the official limit for 123s of 123.5 pounds. That is when I decided to not even try to cut down to 114s and compete at 123s instead. But then the week of weigh-ins I inexplicably began losing weight. I actually had to increase my food intake the last couple of days to try to keep from losing too much weight. The morning of weigh-ins, I weighed 121.6. So I ate and drank normally through the day. But at weigh-ins at 6:00 p.m., I weighed in at 121.0. In retrospect, I probably could have cut down to 114s without too much trouble. Just going the whole day of weigh-ins without eating or drinking anything would have almost done it. But as it was, I weighed in lighter than I would have liked for going 123s.

After weigh-ins, I ate and drank as much as I could without making myself sick. Out of curiosity, I weighed myself the next morning, and I only weighed 121.4. I would have much rather been over 123 at this point. I know from experience that just a couple of pounds can make a difference on benches. More on that in a minute.


Gear: Crain power belt, singlet, squat shoes, wrist wraps; Titan THP 2.0 meter wraps

Warm-ups: 45/15, 145/10, 235/6, belt/ wraps: 325/2

Attempts: 365, 385, 400 (miss)

1st attempt: When I took the weight off of the racks, it felt very heavy. And it was harder than I would have liked for my opener. But I wasn’t as psyched up as I should have been for it, so I wasn’t too worried. But the one red light did bother me some.

2nd attempt: Very heavy. I really struggled in the middle of the lift, but I got it. But again, two whites and one red.

3rd attempt: Buried. As soon as I hit bottom I yelled for the spotters to take the weight as I knew I couldn’t get it. They did a nice of job of helping me get it back up into the racks.

I think the problem on squats is I messed up my final workouts. My plan was to just do my openers for my last workouts for all three lifts. That way, I’d be rested for the contest. But the way my workouts fell, my last squat workout was 12 days out. And my last squat workout before that was ten days before. It was in that workout that I had squatted 400. But 22 days was just too long to go without having a real heavy weight on my back. Hence why all three attempts felt heavy, and why I got buried with the 400.


Gear: CMW power belt, singlet; Inzer wrist wraps

Warm-ups: 45/15, 95/10, 125/6, belt/ wraps: 155/3

Attempts: 175, 190, 200 (miss)

1st attempt: Very easy. Flew up. But I did notice the “press” command was slow in coming.

2nd attempt: Hard, but with some strength to spare.

3rd attempt. I got it almost halfway up when I stalled.

This was where the problem with my bodyweight really hurt me. I am sure if my weight on the day of the contest was over 123 like it should have been I would have gotten the 200.


Gear: CMW power belt, singlet; Nike wrestling shoes, drug store wrist wraps and pull-up knee sleeves

Warm-ups: 45/15, 145/10, 235/6, belt/ wraps: 325/2

Attempts: 365, 385, 400

There was an extra flight of benches for the bench only lifters, so I took the opportunity to lie down at the far end of the gymnasium for half an hour. And that really helped recharge me for deadlifts.

1st attempt: Ditto my first bench attempt: Very easy. Flew up. But I did notice the “down” command was slow in coming.

2nd attempt: Again, ditto my bench attempt. Hard, but with some strength to spare.

3rd attempt. I got really psyched up on this one as I really wanted to go 3/3 on one lift. And as soon as I got it up the first three inches, I knew I had it. It was a hard fight the whole way. But I got it!

By way of comparison to squats, my last deadlift workout where I did just my openers was eight days out. And my last DL workout before that was nine days before. It was in that workout that I had missed 400. So having 17 days of rest worked out just right. But it was kind of ironic that I squatted 400 in training but missed it at the contest, while I missed a 400 deadlift in training but pulled it at the contest.

Contest Satisfaction

My goals going into this contest was to go 400 - 200 - 400 - 1000. Instead, I went 385 - 190 - 400 - 975. So one again, deadlifts saved the day and enabled me to get one of my goals.

Once again, I was the only one in my weight class. But there were separate best lifter trophies for the equipped and raw divisions. And I was really hoping to get the best raw lifter. Given the caliber of lifters at the contest, I thought that I would. But I didn’t get it. I talked to the meet director afterwards, and he said that three of us were very close. If I had gotten the two lifts I had missed, I probably would have gotten best lifter. Or another way of looking at it, if I had cut to 114s and still gone 7/9, I would have gotten it. But, of course, there’s no way of knowing what would have happened if I had cut weight.

With this being my first contest going raw, I really don’t have anything to compare it to. At my last contest I totaled 1030 at 114s. But that was done wearing double-ply gear and 2.5 meter wraps. But still, it was weird moving up a weight class and totaling less. But 7/9 was a good performance. I just think it might take a while longer for me to “grow” into my new weight class. And I have some work to do on my training. I also have to decide if I want to stick with competing raw or go back to using gear. But that decision will be for another time.

The Contest Itself

Let me close by saying it was a very well run contest. There were 26 full power lifters, with a dozen bench only lifters and a couple of bench/ deadlift lifters. The contest started on time, just a few minutes after 10:00 a.m. Even with 40 lifters total, I was still out of there by 3:30 p.m.

The judging was strict. As indicated above, the “press” and “down” commands were slow coming. And there were a few lifts by other lifters that were red lighted that I thought should have been passed. But overall, the judging was very fair.

The one thing I didn’t like was there was no music. At the IPA contests I had been competing at, there was always heavy metal music blaring the whole time. There was also no audience to speak of and thus no cheering from the crowd.. The meet was just too quiet. But beyond that, it was a good meet. So there’s a good chance I’ll enter it again next year. The convenience of entering a contest just an hour away is hard to resist.

Best Lifter?

The contest report for the meet was in the June issue of Powerlifting USA magazine (June 2006, p.84). It was then that I saw who won best raw lifter. He totaled 1205 at 165s. My total was 975 at a weigh-in weight of 121.

Using the Schwartz formula, my value was 872. And assuming a weigh-in weight of 165, His was only 802. So it looks like I should have won best lifter, and it was not even “close” in any sense. Now maybe he weighed in under the limit. But to beat me, he would have had to weigh only 149. I seriously doubt that. Interestingly, another lifter totaled 1510 at 242s. And his value is 811 (again, assuming an actual weigh-in weight of 242). So he should have beat the first lifter as well, but still not close to me.

It’s possible the Wilkes formula was used. I tried finding a copy of it on the Web, but wasn’t able to. But still, I doubt there would be that much of a difference between the two formulas. I mean, if we were close, maybe. But a 70 point difference just makes no sense.

I tried calling, emailing, and writing the meet director. But he never responded. Of course, none of this matters now, but it is irksome. At every contest I’ve entered so far (including this one), I “won” my weight class by virtue of being the only one in my weight class, so it would have been nice to win a trophy by actually beating someone.

Note: An Internet friend with the Wilkes’s formula did some calculations for me, and she told me that the other lifter would have to have weighed 153.75 or less. That’s possible, but unlikely. I also emailed the president of the WNPF. About all he said was the meet director probably did not still have a record of the actual weigh-in weights so there really was nothing that could be done at that point. Maybe that was true, but I still would like to have had an explanation. As such, although the official records do not show it, it seems likely that I did win Best Lifter at this contest.

Best Lifter Update

Much later, I finally heard from the meet director. He did still have a record of the weigh-in weights. The person who had beaten me had weighed in at 164 pounds. The meet director said he used simple division at that contest not a formula for figuring out Best Lifter, but due to my having raised questions about it, he now uses the Schwartz formula. He tried to explain his calculations, but frankly, I could not figure out how he arrived at his results. When I did the math myself by dividing total by bodyweight, it still looks like I should have easily won Best Lifter. I totaled 8.05 times my bodyweight (975 / 121). With weighing in at 164, the other lifter only totaled 7.34 times bodyweight (1205 / 164).

Bottom line is there is no way it is mathematically possible for the other lifter to have beaten me no matter what calculation method was used, so it is apparent that a mistake was made. Not that it matters at this point, but the whole situation is frustrating. I was less than satisfied with my performance at that contest. If I had known then I had won Best Lifter that would have “saved the day” so to speak.

Sometime later I went to watch a WNPF contest run by the same meet director and talked to him afterwards. I wanted to be sure he knew there were no hard feelings. But still, I never did get a satisfactory response to my concern, let alone an admission that a mistake had been made and an apology. That is all I wanted and expected, but such was never forthcoming. As such, I have not felt comfortable entering another WNPF contest as of yet, but I have not ruled out the possibility, as I think I smoothed things out enough with the meet director and president that it would not be problematic. And since the WNPF is now using the Schwartz formula, this issue should not come up again. Also, every contest I have entered since then has been at 114s, so there was really no reason for me not to have done so for this contest. If I  had gone 114s, I might have avoided this whole mess.

All-time Ranking Lists

Unbeknown to me at the time of this contest, my squat was good enough to place me in the Top 15 on the All-time raw open (all ages) ranking lists for 123s. I found out about my name being on that list in December 2014. I wish I had know about it back then as that would have also increased my satisfaction with this contest. As it turns out, this was actually a very good contest for me, with having won Best Lifter and having placed on the All-time ranking list. I just wish I had known all of this at the time.

For pictures from this contest, see Western PA Powerlifting Championships - 2006 - Pictures.

For my first workouts after this contest, see Full Workout Logs: Starting 4/17/06: Off-Season Training.

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).

The above contest report was posted on this site April 10, 2006.
The updates were added at various times after that.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Contest Reports

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