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IPA Pennsylvania State Powerlifting Championships - 2016

Contest Report

By Gary F. Zeolla

9/9 with 27 white lights

Four Personal Records

Four IPA Records

Three All-time American Records

One All-time World Record 


I competed in the Pennsylvania State Powerlifting Championships for the International Powerlifting Association (IPA) in York, PA on Saturday, March 5, 2016. I entered the men’s 114 pound weight class, master (50-54 years old) age division, raw with wraps gear division, Amateur (drug-tested) division. Due to a hamstring injury, this was my first powerlifting contest in a year, since entering this same contest in 2015. As such, most of the background details (including the hotel I stayed at, the contest venue, the records I was hoping to break, and my schedule) were all the same as last year, so for details on these issues, see my contest report for IPA PA States: 2015

However, one difference was I only entered the IPA’s master, 50-54 age division this year, while last year I also entered the open (all ages) division. It cost an additional $55 to enter a second division, which I couldn't afford this time, but the only reason to do so would be to break my own IPA open records, as I would be the only lifter in both divisions. But I am assuming I will enter another IPA contest in the future and will thus will have another chance to break my open records, but this was my last chance to enter the 50-54 division, as I am turning 55 in three weeks. As such, at my next contest I will be in the 55-59 division.




Another difference from last year was weigh-ins were an hour and a half later on Friday, starting this time at 11:30 am. I weighed 118.2 pounds Thursday morning at 6 am. After traveling to my hotel and unpacking, by Thursday evening my weight was down to 116.8. I knew then I’d have no problems making weight. First thing Friday morning I weighed 115.6. I ate a few almonds and took a few sips of water, then moved my bowels. I was then down to 114.6. Over the next couple of hours, I only took small sips of water, then stopped even that at 10 am.

I arrived very early for weigh-ins and was about fifth in line. Ellen Chaillet also arrived a little early to start the weigh-ins. I then dashed into the restroom to try to urinate, but there was nothing left to come out. But no matter, as I weighed in at 114.2, 0.3 pounds under the limit. Perfect. I immediately guzzled some water and then went into the auditorium where the contest would be held, sat on the bleachers, and ate a double-sized portion of my normal pre-workout snack. I then went back to my hotel room and ate about every two hours through the rest of the day. The morning of the contest I was back up to 118.4, so I regained 4.2 pounds in about 20 hours. For details, see Post-Weigh-In Eating and Drinking.

Throughout the week leading up to this contest, I slept better than usual before a contest and thus felt good for the contest.




Gear: Crain: power belt, Genesis wrist wraps, 2.5-meter Genesis knee wraps, Power Squat Shoes.

Warm-ups: 65/20, 135/9, 175/7, 210/5, add gear: 260/3


Planned: 285, 300, 315

Actual:  285, 300, 315

Warmups were uneventful this time after getting confused on them last time due to the weight of the bar. I knew this time it was 65 pounds and loaded my warmups as planned. I timed my last warmup for when the first lifter in flight one was doing her third attempt. That would have been perfect, if it had not been for a couple of fourth attempts. But still, my timing was good. I sunk my opener more than necessary just to be sure it passed. It thus ended up being a little harder than I had hoped, but it passed with three whites. But then for my second attempt I didn't sink it quite as much, and it felt easier than the opener, and again three whites.

I then called for 315. Last time I had squatted 310 for a new All-time, raw, master (50-59) world record, so this lift would be to break my own record. I got very psyched up for it. I descend and came out of the hole with no problems, but as often as been happening in training, I stalled at the midway point. For a split second, I thought of giving up. But I immediately shrugged off that thought off and kept pushing, and somehow it started moving again, and I locked it out easily. Three whites and a new record! I did a lot of jumping around and cheering. But I really need to work on that midway point in training.

The pic below is from my second attempt. As can be seen, it is plenty low. I am sure my third attempt looked the same, but the contest photographer did not get me fully in the hole for it. Click this and the remaining pictures for a larger image.




Gear: Crain: power belt, Genesis wrist wraps; Adidas AdiPower lifting shoes.

Warm-ups: 50/15, 80/9, 105/7, 125/5, add gear: 145/3 


Planned: 160, 170, 175

Actual: 160, 170, 175

Last time, I didn’t lay on the contest bench until my first attempt. It was then that I found out it was much higher than most contest benches and my home gym bench, so much so that I could not put my feet flat on the floor as I usually do. That was the first time I had that problem at a contest. It didn’t adversely affect my bench last time, but I was concerned about it this time. Thus as I was getting anxious Friday morning waiting for weigh-ins to start, I went to the contest site early mainly so I could try out the bench. Sure enough, I could not get my feet positioned correctly and was kicking myself or not bringing some kind of blocks with me to put under my feet.

But during the contest, I had been talking with one of the female lifters in my flight (Elain Grimwood, an excellent 105 pound, equipped lifter). She had heavy mats with her which her handler was putting down on the floor by the warmup bench and would be doing so for the contest bench. I asked him if he would be willing to do the same for me, and he said he would. That really helped and enabled me to use my normal from on benches (thanks Bob).

In any case, with that concern solved, bench warmups went as planned and felt very good. Then my first attempt just flew up. My second attempt was rather easy and sufficient to better what I had done last time and thus to break my IPA master record. I figured I’d be good for ten pounds more, but I stuck with my original plan of only going up by five pounds to 175 for reasons that I will explain in a moment. The 175 was with strength to spare, so I probably would have been good for the 180. The pic below is of my third attempt.




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

Warm-ups: (50/15), 145/9, 205/7, 260/5, add gear: 315/3 


Planned: 350, 365, 380

Actual: 350, 365, 380 

I was getting really tired by deadlifts (I’ll explain why shortly), and my warmups felt heavy. But I splashed some cold water on my face to wake myself up and really had to focus to get psyched up for my first attempt. It was much harder than I would have liked for an opener, but I got. I probably should have lowered my planned second attempt, but I didn’t want to as it was what I needed to break my All-time, raw, masters, American total record. That is why I kept with 175 for my third bench attempt. With getting 315 on squats, then 175 on benches, I knew I would only need my planned second attempt on deadlifts to reach the needed total. The 365 ended up being very difficult, and I was shaking throughout the lift. But I got it and thus broke my total record!

But now I had a decision to make. My planned 380 third attempt seemed out of reach with how hard 365 was. But I had already broken my total record and had accomplished all I had hoped for at this contest, except to break my All-time, raw, master deadlift record. As such, there was no reason not to try the 380 for that record, but I knew it would take an out-out effort and them some to get it.

I really focused before the lift. I got it in my mind that if I could just get the bar moving I would get the lift. Just don’t give up. I got myself as psyched up as possible for it. Got set, pulled, and sure enough, the bar started moving, so I just kept pulling. A few inches up, I thought for sure it would stall, but somehow I kept it going, very slowly up my shins to my knees, then very slowly past my knees. Once it hit my thighs, I once again thought for sure it would stall. But somehow, I kept it moving to a very slow lockout.

There was a quick “Down” command. I set it down then jumped with my hands upraised Rocky-style, looked back at the lights board to see three whites, jumped up and down some more, and bounded off of the stage to several high fives from other lifters, then collapsed into my chair breathless. It was one of the hardest pulls of my lifting career. One lifter said to me, “If your wrist wraps were any heavier, you would have missed that lift.” Another said, “That’s what a third attempt should look like.” A third quipped, “Well, are you taking a fourth attempt?” Me: “No, no, no, no, no, no.”

The picture below is of my third attempt and where I almost stalled above my knees. You can see how much I am straining.

Note: I mention “Rocky-style” as Thursday evening at the hotel, flipping channels I happened to come across Rocky 4 and watched it for the umpteenth time. At the end of the training sequence, Rocky scales a snow covered mountain in Russia. At the top, he jumps up and down with arms upraised. I figure that’s what I must have looked like, as seen in the pic below.


Comments on Lifts


I bettered my own squat and deadlift records by five pounds each. With coming off of a hamstring injury and other problems that have been adversely affecting squats and deadlifts that I discuss in my Routine Review post, I am very happy with that small increase. And besides, at my level, increases are hard to come by, so I will take any, no matter how small.

I increased my bench records my ten pounds. For someone my size, that is significant, as is the 20-pound increase in my total. But now I’ve set myself a high bar to better next time, but that is what makes powerlifting so great, there’s also another challenge to shoot for.  

But what I found interesting is my final heavy squat workout was six days out and my final heavy bench workout five days out. Normally, I would put in light workouts that close to a contest. But with the problems I had been having on squats, I really needed that final heavy workout. And I went heavier than usual on benches as usually I am cutting weight by then and am thus unable to work hard. But I changed my cut weight procedure somewhat this time and didn’t start hard cutting until the next day. I thus had the energy for a hard workout and figured I needed it. And it all worked out well.

Also interesting is I have not been pausing my benches in training but had no problem doing so at the contest. That could be due to the 3 count pause benches I have been doing in training in addition to regular (non-paused) benches. 

But it was deadlifts that did not go so well. I’m not sure if that was due to my last heavy day being ten days out or just a continuation of the problems I’ve been having for the past month or so in training. If the former, there’s not much I could have done about it given how the timing my final workouts fell. But if the latter, I already have plans for revising my deadlift training for my next training plan.


The Contest Itself


Back in my college lifting days (ca 1981), for most contests, weigh-ins were at 8:00 am, and the contest would start at 10:00 am. Normally, the contest would then end about 4:00 pm. But one contest ran so long, I did not leave the contest site with my trophy until midnight! I never thought I would have to endure such an ordeal again, but I just did! I waited until now to discuss this so as to present the positive aspects of this contest first before getting to this negative aspect.

Last year when I entered this contest, there were two sessions, with two flights in each session. I was in the first flight in session one. Our session started at 9:30 am. Lifting was completed at 3:00 pm. It took an hour to figure out the results and to hand out the trophies, so I left at 4 pm, just as session two was starting. I found out later that session two finished up at about 10:30 pm. That is all about normal for a powerlifting contest nowadays, and I assumed it would be the same this time.

For this contest, I was up early and ate breakfast at 5:30 am. I had hoped to arrive at the contest site about 8:00 am, but I decided to eat my pre-workout snack in my hotel room before I left at that time. I assumed I would be in the first flight and thus starting to warm-up at 9:00. I usually eat that snack an hour before my workouts and wanted to use a similar timing for the contest. I thus arrived at the contest site at 8:15 and went straight into the locker room and changed. When I got out, Mark Chaillet (the president of the IPA) had already started the rules meeting. It was then that I found out there was only to be one session with four flights. 

I was completely flabbergasted. I could not understand why there was only one session. The roster had been posted on the IPA’s website a week before showing there was to be 66 lifters. Well actually, it initially only had 65 lifters on it, but that was because my name was not on it! That left me in a bit of a panic, and I immediately contacted Ellen Chaillet. But she assured me I was registered and that my name had been omitted accidently and corrected it (thanks Ellen!). But that meant the IPA knew well in advance how many lifters there would be, so there was no reason not to plan for it.

In any case, Mark went on to say we would be done by about 7 pm. I shook my head and muttered to myself, “There’s no way we’ll be out of here until 10 pm.” I was almost right. The last deadlift was pulled at 10 pm, but by the time results were calculated and the trophies handed out, it was 11:30 pm. 

To put all of this in perspective, I ended up being in the middle of flight two, so I could have waited to arrive at the meet site to eat my pre-workout snack as I didn’t start to warm-up until the first flight started, which was right on time at 9:30 am. That flight took almost an hour, as did mine. I thus put in my final squat at 11:20 am. But then I did not perform my bench opener until 3:40 pm, four hours and twenty minutes later. I finished with benches at 4:20 pm, but did not pull my deadlift opener until 7:40 pm. I then pulled that dramatic last deadlift at 8:15 pm, exactly 12 hours after I had arrived at the contest site. Hence why I was getting tired by deadlifts. In fact, it was very difficult to try to remain calm and focused during all of that down time and not to tire myself out pacing around.

I also was not prepared for an all-day event food-wise. I had only bought with me two more of my pre-workout snacks, one to consume after squats and the other after benches. I also had a quart of carrot-orange juice, but that was it. After squats, normally I immediately change my gear around, then eat my next pre-workout snack and drink some of the juice, rest for a few minutes, then start to warmup for benches. But here, I figured there would be at least two hours until benches started, so I waited a while to eat my pre-workout snack. But then I got anxious and ate it at what turned out to be way too early of a time. As it finally came close to when I needed to start warming up for benches, I was getting hungry, so I drank the rest of the juice. That gave me a bit of a sugar rush, but I was okay for benches. 

But then after benches, I was really getting hungry and knew that my one remaining pre-workout snack would not be enough. I thus went out to the concession stand to see if there was anything worthwhile. There wasn’t, just junk that I didn’t want to risk putting into my body. I happened to notice Elain seemed to have a lot of food with her, so I bummed a large bagel off her (thanks Elain!). Between that and my snack, I was okay for deadlifts. But from now on I will bring more food with me than I am actually planning on consuming, just in case.


After Lifting


After I pulled my final deadlift, I went into the warmup room and did what I did last time—some stretching and took some glutamine. That’s what I always do after workouts, and it seems to help with DOMS. I then went into the locker room, washed up a bit in the sink, and changed into my street clothes. I then went back into the warmup room, sat on the floor, pulled out my smart phone, and texted my dad about how I did. I then I posted a very short message in my three social sites with my results as well. But I was way too tired to go into much detail.

I then gathered up my gear and took it to my car. It was now after 9 pm, and I considered just leaving and going back to my hotel, skipping the awards ceremony and not getting my trophy. But I kind of wanted that trophy, not that it meant anything as I was the only person in my weight class, as has always been the case since I started competing again in 2003. But I consider my growing trophies collection more as mementoes of my contests. I can look at each trophy and tell you exactly how I did at that contest. I thus grudgingly went back into the auditorium and sat in the audience area. 

But I’m glad I went back as it was then that I found out that I needed to fill out a form for my IPA records. Ellen Chaillet also announced that a professor photographers had been taking pictures and that his cards were on the scorer’s table. I got a card and talked to him afterwards. He said he took pictures of every attempt and would be posting them on his website, arranged by flights. The pics can be viewed freely, but they cannot be copied. They need to be purchased for $2.00 each to be downloaded. Prints can also be ordered, or you can print from the downloaded file. I also asked him if I contacted my local newspaper about the contest if they could contact him about using one of his pics of me for the article, and he said that something probably could be arranged. If the reader competed at the contest, your pics should be able to viewed on his website.

In any case, all of this made it worthwhile that I did go back for the awards ceremony. I got my trophy at about 11 pm but waited until the outstanding master lifter trophy was presented, as I figured there was an outside chance I might get it. I didn’t, which I will discuss next, but I left immediately after that, at 11:15 pm, with a few trophies left to be presented. That probably took a few minutes, and thus I estimate it all ended about 11:30 pm, 15 hours after it began. Below is a pic of me receiving my trophy from Mark Chaillet and a close up of the trophy I waited two hours for.




Master Best Lifter


The IPA uses the Schwartz Formula for figuring best lifters. That is fine and is the formula that was always used back in my college lifting days. But for master best lifter, they multiply its result by the coefficient from the Schwartz Master's Formula, and that is not quite so fine. In fact, when I first downloaded that formula from the ‘Net, a note was attached that read, “Warning: This formula is highly unreliable.” I’m not sure who added that, but I would concur.

At this contest I totaled 870 at 114.2 pounds. That gives me a Schwartz coefficient of 1.2741 and a result of 1108.5018. The person who was awarded the best master lifter trophy totaled 1130 at 164.2. That gives him a Schwartz coefficient of 773.7528 and result of 1004.9892. As such, if only the regular Schwartz was used, I would have won best lifter easily over him, by over 100 points. However, once you multiply that by the age coefficient, things are much different. At 54 years, my age coefficient is 1.330 and result is now 1474.307394. I know from talking with the other lifter that he is a decade older than me. Thus his age coefficient at 64 is 1.865 and result is now 1874.304858. He thus beats me by 400 points.

But doing the calculations, what this means is, for me to have beaten him, I would have had to have totaled more than 1,106. That frankly is just about impossible for a 114 pound, raw lifter. Only two lifters in the history of powerlifting have done so, and both of them were in their thirties at the time (Andrzej Stanaszek of Poland at age 31 and Hideaki Inaba of Japan at age 35, from the All-time Raw Ranking List, as compiled by Michal Soong). The person awarded best lifter is a good lifter, but not so good that it should take the third best total of all-time for a given weight class to beat him.

To look at it another way, the formula is assuming a lifter will only be able to total 71% of what he does in his fifties in his sixties. Thus having totaled 870 now at age 54, it assumes by age 64 I will only be able to total 678. The only way I see that much of a drop-off happening is due to illness or injury. But the same could be said of any lifter of any age. It would not be the result of normal aging. As such, the IPA should really scrap the Schwartz Master's Formula, as it simply assures that the older lifter will win the award, with us “younger” master lifters not having a chance at it.




Normally, after a contest I go back to my hotel room, shower, order a pizza, then relax and eat and watch TV the rest of the day, basking in the afterglow of a whatever I accomplished at the contest. But this time, by the time I got back to my hotel room and showered, it was midnight, so I just ate a quick snack and went to bed. I thus felt cheated out what I always is feel is the best part of entering a contest. But I guess I should be glad I planned on staying at a hotel the night after the contest. Back in college, after that ridiculously long contest, I had to drive three hours back to Penn State, arriving in State College at 3 am. I could never do that today, hence the post-contest hotel stay.

In any case, I went to bed about two hours later than normal, but then I woke up at my normal time. I tried getting back to sleep, but just couldn’t. When I got up, I felt like I got hit by a truck, so the stretching and glutamine did not work this time. That was probably due to my final squat and deadlift being so difficult. Interestingly, the sorest parts of my body were my calves. So if you’re wondering if the calves are used in squats and deadlifts, I can assure you they are. And I probably should focus more when I work my calves in training rather than just buzzing through them as I have been doing.

In any case, I then ate breakfast and did my other normal morning stuff and began packing. I then had an almost four-hour drive home. Once I got home, I unpacked. But I made sure to do what I did last time--I organized things as much as possible for next time. That made things very easy when I packed this time. But after all of that, I was really wiped out. But I still have a couple of days of washing to do and responsibilities later in the week before I can really rest up. As such, my plan is to wait until Sunday, March 13 to start training again. That will give me a full week off after the contest. I will be posting an article shortly on my “New Two by Two Training Plan and Next Contest Plans,” so I will wait until then to make comments in those regards.


Final Thoughts


I have entered many IPA contests and have always found them to be enjoyable and well-run. As such, my comments in this article should not be taken as a disparagement of the IPA or of those involved in running this contest. They did their best to keep things running as smoothly as possible given the circumstances, and it was a very long day for them too. I understand that and would like to thank them for their efforts. The problem was with the planning leading up to the contest. But Ellen Chaillet has already announced on Facebook that this contest will be a two-day event next year. I thus will have no qualms about entering it or any other IPA contest in the future. The full results of this contest are posted on the IPA’s website.

To close, I would like to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for not only enabling me to make it through this arduous contest but to do so very successfully. To Him be all the glory.


Newspaper Write-up


My local newspaper, the Valley News Dispatch, ran a short write-up about the above contest. It got a couple of facts wrongs, which is par for the course. It says, “The deadlift and bench lifts were personal records” when in fact all three lifts were PRs, as was my total. But more importantly, it failed to mention that my squat and deadlift were not just PRs but All-time world records. But still, it is nice to get some recognition from my local paper, even it if took over a month for it do so. The article is located at: A-K Valley lifters garner 1st-place honors.


IPA PA States – 2016: Hotel and Contest Venue Pictures

New Two by Two Training Plan and Next Contest Plans

For my first workouts after this contest, see Full Workout Logs: Starting 3/13/2016 – Two by Two Plan; Post-Contest Routine, Weeks 1-6 of 12.

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 March 7, 2016.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
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