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APF/ AAPF Ohio State Powerlifting Championships - 2016

Contest Report

By Gary F. Zeolla

For the third contest in a row:

9/9 with 27 white lights

Four Personal Records

Four Federation Records

Three All-time American Records

One All-time World Record 




      I competed in the Ohio State Powerlifting Championships for the American Powerlifting Federation (APF) and the Amateur American Powerlifting Federation (AAPF) in Mansfield, OH, on Saturday, September 10, 2016. I competed in the AAPF (drug tested) federation, 114-pound weight class, men’s masters (55-59 age) category, Classic Raw (raw with wraps) division. For my training routine leading up to this contest, Full Workout Logs: Two by Two Powerlifting Training Plan - 2016; Pre-Contest Routine, Weeks 7-12 of 12.




      After weighing 122.8 pounds on Wednesday, August 31, by Thursday morning, September 8, I weighed 117.6 pounds. I thought I would a be okay, as that was a tad lighter than at that time before my last two contests. By Thursday at bedtime, I was down to 116.4. First thing Friday morning, I weighed 115.6. I ate a few almonds and took a couple of sips of water for breakfast and then was able to move my bowels. But by 8 am I was only down to 115.4, so I could have used a long, hot bath. However, my hotel room only had a shower stall, so I did some spitting and hoped I would be able to urinate before weighing in. I got to the contest site at 8:30 am and weighed in immediately. I weighed 115.0. I waited, did some more spitting, and was able to urinate 45 minutes later. I was then right at the weight class limit of 114.6 pounds.

      Note that the APF/ AAPF are subsidies of the World Powerlifting Congress (WPC). The WPC Rulebook only gives the weight class limits in kilograms, but the meet director was using a pound scale. My weight class limit is 52 kg. The conversion factor is 2.2046, so doing the math, the limit is exactly 114.6392 pounds. Federations that use pounds usually round this down to 114.5, so that is what I usually think in terms of. But with the WPC using kilos, I was actually 0.0392 pounds under the limit, or rounding it off, 4/100th of a pound or 0.02 kg. That is really cutting it close.

      I of course could have lost the additional 0.1 pounds if I had to. I would have just had to have waited a little longer and done a bit more spitting. But I was happy to be able to eat and especially drink something, as it had been almost 24 hours since I had done so.

      I think the reason I had problems and cut it so close was because I did not increase sodium and water on Monday and Tuesday like I did for my last two contests. I didn’t as last time that caused me to have to get up at night to urinate. But doing so causes the body to get used to excreting the extra sodium and water, and it continues to do so when they are cut. I will thus have to do so next time.


Post Weigh-ins


      Post weigh-in, I ate as described in the article Post-Weigh-In Eating and Drinking. But I used a different cereal, Kashi's Whole Grain Nuggets rather than the mentioned Barbara's Morning Oat Crunch. I did so as the Kashi cereal has twice the calories as the Barbara's one: 210 per 1/2 cup versus 210 per cup. With eating two cups, that gave me 840 calories of glycogen replenishing carbs in fell swoop. But for some reason I put two scoops of chocolate protein powder in it, and that was too much. It was so chocolatey, it was sickening. This was at the contest site. I then returned to my hotel room and ate about every three hours, drinking water in-between. But I was stuffed by the last meal, so I didn’t eat as much as I planned.

      The next morning, I was up to 120.0 pounds, so going back to my weight first thing the previous morning, I gained 4.6 pounds in 24 hours. Later I calculated I had eaten the following:

Calories: 4,184
Fat: 107 g, 22% of calories
Carbs: 684 g, 62%
of calories
Protein: 178, 16%
of calories
Sodium: 4,135 mg
Potassium: 6,164 mg

       That is almost twice as many calories and more carbs, sodium, and potassium and less fat than I usually consume and more calories, carbs, and sodium than I consumed after weigh-ins at my last contest. That was due in part due to change of cereal. And it enabled me to gain and weigh the most I ever have post weigh-ins, so I guess I did stuff enough into myself. The importance of this will be seen shortly.

      I slept okay that night, but not great. But then that’s normal for me, so I felt okay. In the morning I ate some more, took a hot shower, and left to go to the contest.


Hotel and Venue


      I stayed at the M Star Hotel Mansfield. I’m not sure if this is a standalone hotel or part of a chain, but I never heard of it. It was a good hotel, but not great. But for $55/ night, I was satisfied with it.

      The contest was held at the Fitness Factory. it is a very well-equipped gym, set up for cross fit, strongman, and powerlifting. The strongman and powerlifting stuff is in the basement, while the rest of the equipment is on the main floor. The contest was held on the main floor, while the warm-up room was downstairs. For more on both the hotel and contest site, see APF/ AAPF Ohio States – 2016: Hotel and Contest Venue: Comments and Pictures.




Gear: Crain: power belt, Genesis wrist wraps, 2.5-meter Genesis knee wraps; generic boots

Warm-ups: --/15, 55/10, 135/9, 165/7, 195/5, 225/4, add gear: 265/3

Attempts: 290, 305, 320

      I sunk my opener and came up with it rather easily. But the second attempt felt much harder. I think I came down too slowly and did not sink it as much as usual. I’ve noticed of late that with my Crain wraps, I’m actually better off sinking it a bit more than necessary, as that gives me more rebound out of the hole.

      Then on my final attempt my form was just right. I went down quickly, sunk it well, and came up out of the hole quickly. But then I almost stalled halfway up, but the bar never stopped, and I ground it out slowly from there and good for three whites. That halfway point is where I’ve been stalling in training as well. I will post a “Training Plan Preview” article later about how I plan on dealing with that sticking point.

      But here; going in I was debating on whether I should plan on 320 or 325 for my final attempt. I was thinking I would probably be good for the 325, but 320 is all I needed for a 50s PR and thus to break my own All-time, raw, masters (50-59) world record. Another five pounds would be nice, but it wouldn’t have given me anything beyond just another five pounds, so I thought it best to go with the 320. As it turned out, the 325 might have been doable, but it would have been iffy, so it was best I was a bit conservative.

      Note also, there were no AAPF records in the weight/ class division I was entering, so as long as I did not bomb out, all of my lifts would be for AAPF American records. That’s rather meaningless, so I am focusing on my personal and all-time records here.




Gear: Crain: power belt, Genesis wrist wraps; AdiPower Lifting Shoes.

Warm-ups: 45/15, 80/9, 105/7, 125/5, add gear: 145/3

Attempts: 160, 170, 180

      Like squats, my bench opener was very easy, but my second attempt was not as hard as my second squat attempt. That was probably because my form was fine on it. But going in I knew 180 was pushing it for my third attempt; but I had benched 175 at my last contest, so I needed 180 for a 50s PRs, so I went for it.

      The bar felt light taking it off of the racks and down to my chest. I paused it, and it started up rather quickly, but then about halfway up, it almost stalled, and from there on it was an incredible grind. My right arm was lagging behind my left, while neither was barely moving. By the time my left hand was about 1” from lockout, my right hand was still about 3” from it and felt like it had stopped. I kept pushing and screaming and grinding to get my right hand moving. I thought for sure the spotters were going to take it; but as long as they weren’t taking it, I figured I might as well keep pushing. And somehow, I have no idea how, the bar slowly started moving, and I locked both hands out together.

      I looked up, saw three whites and jumped up into the air! A few fist pumps, another jump, run off the platform, then collapse into my chair. After thanking the LORD, I began huffing and puffing like I had just run a four-minute mile. It took me five minutes before I was breathing normally again. I never got so winded from a bench press in life. But it was worth it! Definitely, the lift of the day.

      And this is where my bodyweight might have been a factor. I have found weight fluctuations affect the bench much more than squats and deadlifts, so it is possible I would not have been able to grind out this final attempt if I hadn’t gotten my weight back up to almost normal. But it is obvious that despite lifting raw, I need to do more top end work, as I have also been having problems with the lockout in training. I will detail my plans in that regard in my forthcoming Training Plan Preview article.




Gear: Crain power belt, singlet; Uxcell knee sleeves; APT wrist bands; Nike wrestling shoes.

Warm-ups: 45/15, 135/9, 185/7, 230/5, 275/4, add gear: 315/3

Attempts: 350, 370, 385

       The first two attempts of deadlifts followed that of squats and benches. The opener was very easy, the second attempt was hard but not too hard, about between that of squats and benches. However, I almost lost my grip on my right hand. I will discuss shortly why I think that was so.

      But here; going in I thought I might be good for 390, but I only needed 385 for a 50s PRs and to break my own All-time, raw, masters (50-59) American deadlift and total records. As such, like squats, I didn’t think it was worth taking a risk for a meaningless extra five pounds, so I planned on 385.

      The weights broke from the floor rather easily, and I knew then I would get it. I just had to grind it out. It was a very hard lift, but I might have been able to get the 390, except once again, I was losing my grip. I was holding the bar by my fingertips at the lockout and set it down as quickly as possible after the “Down’ command. I barely got it to the floor without dropping it.


Total and Picking Attempts


      With getting a five pound 50s PR on all three lifts, that gave me a 15 pound 50s PR on my total of 885. I know that is not much, but with being in my mid-50s, I am happy with it. I am making progress, and that is all that matters. But it did take another 9/9 day and a dramatic final bench attempt. But then again, picking my attempts just right shows my training plan and how it sets me up for picking contest attempts works well, as detailed in my Sets x Reps Philosophy and Plan article.

      My openers were all very easy, but not so easy that the jumps to my second attempts were too much. My second attempts were hard, but not so hard that they tired me out for my third attempts. And I correctly knew going in what my capabilities were for the third attempts. I knew I could get 320 on squats, while 325 would be iffy. I knew 180 would be pushing it on benches, and I knew I could get 385 on deadlifts while 390 would be iffy, and that all proved to be the case. I picked my third attempts based on that knowledge and what my goals were for each lift. Thus I was a bit conservative on squats and deadlifts but pushed it to the limit on benches, as that is what I needed for my goals.

      At best, I left ten pounds on the platform. That was the case for my last two contests, so I am not having perfect days by taking tokens lifts. At all three contests, my final attempts have been near or full maxes.


The Contest Itself


      The rules meeting was supposed to start at 8:00 and the contest at 9:00 am, but both started a half an hour late. That could have been due to many late entries. When I was weighing in, a couple of lifters were just signing up then. I believe the final count was 60 lifters, with about fifteen being bench and /or deadlift only lifters.

      There were three flights of full power lifters. All of the women were in the first flight, the raw lifters (including me) were in the second, and the equipped lifters in the third, with an extra flight for the bench only lifters. That extra flight always throw off my timing for warming up. But what really caused me problems was the setup of the gym. It is great for a gym, but not for a contest. With warming up downstairs and the contest upstairs, I had no idea what was happening on the platform. I had to either keep running up and down the stairs or ask people as they were coming down the steps what was happening on the platform. That problem could have been solved simply by setting up speakers for the PA system downstairs. With Bluetooth technology, that would be a synch to do.

      But as it was, all of the trips up and down the stairs really got me tired out. And with being so unsure of the progress on the platform, I finished my warm-ups way too early. I figured that was better than warming up too late. But it meant I did my final squat and bench warm-ups about 30 minutes before my first attempts and my final deadlift warm-up about 45 minutes before. Fortunately, my openers were easy enough that it did not cause me a problem. But still that is too long to wait.

      Also, a collar was not to be found in the warm-up room. At least, I couldn’t find any. My deadlift warm-ups thus felt terrible due to the weights shifting on me. It was also very hot in the warm-up room. Despite having a two-quart jug of water and a quart of orange-carrot juice, I ran out of liquids. But at least I had thought of that beforehand and had a gallon of spring water in my car; so after benches, I ran out to the car and filled up my water jug.

      I thought the judging on squats was too lenient. I saw several squats that to me looked way too high but which were passed, especially for the heavy weight equipped lifters. But then on deadlifts, more lifters were red-lighted for hitching or dropping the bar after the “Down” command than I had ever seen at a contest.

      The lifting ended about 5:00 pm, but then it took almost an hour for the results to be calculated and another half an hour to hand out all of the trophies. It was about 6:30 pm when I left. It was thus a long contest, but not near as bad as my previous contest, for which I did not get out of there until 11:15 pm.

      In any case, overall, this contest ran smoothly. And I would like to thank the meet directors, Wade and John, the announcers, scorekeepers, judges, and loaders/ spotters for their efforts. It is too early to say for sure, but I could see myself entering this contest again next year.




      I went back to my hotel room afterwards, took a shower, then relaxed and watched TV. I was going to order a pizza, but between how much I ate after weigh-ins and during the contest, I really wasn’t that hungry, so I just ate some food I still had left in my room and went to bed early. The next day, I had a three-hour drive home and then spent a couple of hours unpacking, while organizing things for next time and that I would need to wash.

      I am resting today (Monday). I will then spend the next two days doing that washing, then rest a couple of more days, with plans of starting training again on Sunday, September 18. 2016. Tentatively and God-willing, my next contest will IPA PA States on March 4, 2017 in York, PA, the same contest I have entered the last two years. I will post a “Training Plan Preview” shortly with changes I plan on making to correct the minor problems I have been having in training and at this contest as I begin to prepare for that contest.

      Until then, I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for His enabling and the how well this contest went. To Him be all of the glory.


Postscript: Bars at the Contest


      This final section is an update to my article on Powerlifting Bars. But I am also including it here for the benefit of those who already read that article, and my comments here will assume knowledge of that article.

      At this contest, an Okie Squat Bar was used. It is 31.5 mm thick and weights weighs 55 pounds. The knurling on it was more than sufficient for squats, and it felt about the same on my back as my Heavy Duty Power Bar (HDPB), which is 30 mm thick. I thus had no problems due to the use of a specialty squat bar. And I can now say, if you’re looking for a specialty squat bar, the Okie would be a good choice.

      A Texas Power Bar (TPB) was used for benches. It is 28.5 mm thick and weighs the normal 45 pounds. I had been using my HDPB for training for benches since getting it earlier this year, but when I found out a TPB was to be used at the contest, I switched to mine. And I am glad I did, as if I hadn’t I might have overestimated my capabilities. I say that as when I first switched from my TPB to the HDPB in training, I noticed a slight but noticeable jump in my training weights; but then when I switched back, a corresponding drop, so it would seem a thicker bar is beneficial for benches. This explains why benches felt so good at my previous contest, in which a Wolfe Bench Bar was used, which is 29.5 mm thick and weighs 50 pounds.

      In any case, by training on the same bar as would be used at the contest, I was able to pick my attempts just right. Well actually, if it were a workout, I would have tried 177.5 pounds on my third attempt, but of course, such a “odd” weight cannot be attempted at a contest. But I would have gotten it without the dramatics it took to get the 180.

      However, deadlifts were where bar differences were really noticeable. I have been training on a Ohio Deadlift Bar for the last several weeks, while a Okie Deadlift Bar was used at the contest. Both bars are 27 mm thick and weigh 45 pounds. But the differences are in the knurling and whip.

      My Ohio bar has very deep knurling, so much so that I tore a callus on it when I first started using it that still has not healed, as I keep re-tearing it every time I deadlift. But that deep knurling has meant I have had no problems with my grip in training. But I have been a bit leery that if I enter a contest using a bar without such deep knurling, I would have grip problems. And that might have proven to be the case, as I was losing my grip on my second and third attempts.

      I say “might have” as part of the reason for my grip problem might have been the torn callus and the bandage that I was trying to keep on it. I had to change it after squats and again after benches. But with deadlifts, I had to change it once during warmups, after warmups, and after each attempt. And after each attempt, the bandage had pulled off. It is thus possible the bandage was slipping between my hand and the bar, causing the grip problem. But I was very leery not to cover it, lest I really tore it, and it would never heal.

      Conversely, there is a bit of whip to the Ohio bar, but not much. As such, it has not made that much of a difference in the initial pull off of the floor in training. But at the contest, I could see as I watched the lifters before and after me that the Okie bar has much greater whip, as it was bending considerably on everyone’s attempts, even those who were not using that great of weights. And it was really bending with the heavyweights. That whip is probably why my final attempt came off of the floor very easily, and why I probably would have been good for five more pounds.

      It is thus a toss-up which bar would be best train on. Train on the Ohio bar, and you might have problems with your grip at a contest. But then at a contest using a bar with more whip, you might find the initial pull very easy. Train on an Okie bar, and you shouldn’t have any problems with your grip at a contest using a bar with deeper knurling. But you might find the weights “sticking” to the floor if the contest bar has less whip.

      As for me, I have the Ohio Deadlift Bar and will keep training with it. At my next planned contest, there will be a Wolfe Deadlift Bar. It is similar to the Ohio bar in terms of knurling and whip, so using the Ohio bar will prepare me just fine. But to prepare for future contests using a bar with less deep knurling, I will need to do grip work. I will detail my plans in that regard in my forthcoming Training Plan Preview article.


Newspaper Write-up


My local newspaper ran a very short piece about my contest. It is so short it was not posted on their website, but I was able to type it all up. It reads:


Natrona Heights’ Gary Zeolla set four records, including a world powerlifting record in the Masters division (ages 50-59) in the 114-pound body-weight division for squats by lifting 320 pounds, Saturday at the Ohio State Powerlifting Championships. Zeolla also set American records in bench (180 pounds), deadlift (385) and total weight (885). (Valley News Dispatch, 9/14/16).


APF/ AAPF Ohio States – 2016: Hotel and Contest Venue: Comments and Pictures

2016-17 Training Plan Preview (forthcoming).

For my first workouts after this contest, see Two by Two Powerlifting Training Plan - 2016-17; Post-Contest Routine, Weeks 1-6 of 11.

The above contest report was posted on this site September 12, 2016.

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Powerlifting and Strength Training: Contest Reports

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