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APF/ AAPF Ohio State Powerlifting Championships - 2017

Contest Report

By Gary F. Zeolla

Two Personal Records
Six AAPF Records
Two All-time American Records




      I competed in the Ohio State Powerlifting Championships for the American Powerlifting Federation (APF) and the Amateur American Powerlifting Federation (AAPF) in West Lafayette, OH, on Saturday, September 9, 2017, held at Blackstone’s Gym. 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 final workout logs leading up to this contest, see 2017 Two Stage Trinity Powerlifting Training Plan, Stage Two, Rotations III and IV of IV.




      I weighed 122.6 pounds on Wednesday (8/30). I needed to weigh 114.5 at 9 am Friday (9/8) to make weight for the 114-pound (52 kg) weight class. That meant I had 8.1 pounds to lose in 9 days. The weight didnt come off quite as easily this time as last time, but by the morning of weigh-ins, I was down to 115.6. I lost less than half a pound going to the bathroom, so I thought it best to take a long hot bath. I try to avoid that, as it is very draining and leaves me light-headed, but I lost almost a pound.

      It was an hour or so later when I got to the contest site. By then, I needed to urinate, and with that, I weighed in at 113.5. That surprised me some, as I thought I would be closer than that. But it worked well, for reasons I will explain as I go along.


Post Weigh-ins


      I took some food with me and ate it outside, then went back in to check out the venue some more and to try out the bench to see if I would need to use my blocks. I did. I then went back to my hotel room and spent the rest of the day eating and rehydrating. I got kind of bored in-between eating periods, as there wasn’t much on TV. Usually I watch mostly Fox News, but it was all Irma all day long. My heart and prayers go out to those affected by the hurricane, but I could only watch so much coverage.

      But it all worked out well. I slept rather well that night. I fact, I slept better than I usually do the whole week pre-contest. And come morning, my weight was back up to 119.6, and I felt rather good.

      I took a quick hot shower to loosen up, then drove to the contest site. I arrived early, 7:30 am. But I planned it that way for a reason I’ll explain later. But here, the meet was supposed to start at 9:00 am, but got delayed until 9:30. That threw off my pre-contest timing and routine. But once it got started, it was a very well-run contest and proceeded smoothly.




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

Warm-ups: --/15, 65/11, 135/9, 175/7, add belt: 205/5, add wraps: 240/3, 275/1


Planned: 305, 320, 335

Actual: 305, 325, 335 (miss)


      I waited until after the rules meeting at 8:30 am to start warming up. And the shower did the trick, as I had no problems hitting depth from my first warmup rep on. I felt very good warming up, and the weights felt light. As I got to my heaviest warmups, I heard someone behind me saying, “You’re making us old folks look good.” But then someone else said to him, “He’s not old, you are.”

      My first attempt went very well. It was then that I made a change in my plans. I was going to go to 320, but then I remembered that was what I squatted at this contest last year, which was good for the AAPF open and masters (55-59) records, so all I need was 325 to break my own records. I figured it made sense to jump to that to be sure I at least accomplished that much.

      The lift ended up being harder than I expected, with me really struggling at the midpoint. But I got it. I probably should have only gone up to 330 for my third attempt, which would have been a 50s PR and broken my own all-time masters world record from my contest in March. But I had my mind on 335, so I went with that.

      It felt good as I was coming down. I hit the hole and began to come up. I even thought, “I’m going to get this.” But then about 4” or so up, I stalled, and try as I might, I couldn’t get it going again. I’m not sure what happened, as I really thought I would get it.

      It may have been that I was having trouble concentrating (more on that later). It may have been because I was struggling on the walkout. There was a monolift, but since I train with a power rack and thus need to walk out in training, I walked out my first two attempts. But I had recently changed the way I walk it out in training, and it was not yet ingrained. That is probably why I stumbled a bit on my second attempt, so I figured I’d make use of the monolift and not walk out the third attempt, and that change might have thrown me off even more.

      Or it could be that I am just weak in the hole. With plans to only compete raw with wraps or maybe equipped someday, but definitely not raw without wraps, I have not been doing much bottom-end work. But I have thought of a way to incorporate more bottom-end work into my training for my next training plan that I will explain shortly.

      But here, though I’m not considering 325 a new 50s PR since I squatted the same at my last contest, that was with 3.0-meter wraps and this was with only 2.5 meters, so in a way, it was a new PR. But still, I was disappointed I didn’t get the 335. If it weren’t for a health setback a month before this contest that threw off my training, I most likely would have gotten it. I will explain why it is important if or when I get 335 @ 114s.




Gear: Crain: power belt, Genesis wrist wraps. 

Warm-ups: 45/15, 70/9, 90/7, 110/5, add gear: 125/3, 140/1 


Planned: 155, 165/ 170, 175/ 180

Actual: 155, 165, 175


      My bench training had not gone well, and the setback affected it even more than squats and deadlifts, so I knew going in I had no chance to better my 50s PR and AAPF records of 180 that I set at this contest last year. But I thought I might be able to equal it, but I wasn’t sure. That is the reason for the ranges in my second and third planned attempts.

      Warmups felt good, but I was thrown off by the benches, both in the warmup room and on the platform. I use the hook on my power rack for bench racks. They angle outward, so I can easily slide the bar up and out myself, and usually that is the way the hooks are at contests, so I stick with unracking the bar myself.

      But the racks on these benches went straight up, and there was no way I could get the weight out myself. But I was able to recruit someone in the warmup room who was lifting off for someone else to do so for me. He did a good job, and I was thankful for it. But still that left me even more unsure with my attempts. As such, I went with my lower planned weights, and good thing, as I barely got the 175.

      But as I said in my logs before, all I needed was benches to not stink too much and mess up my total, so all things considered, I was happy with the 175. And with weighing in at only 113.5, it is a tad over 1-1/2 times bodyweight.

      BTW, the person’s name who handed off for me was Nick. I told him afterwards that that is my dad’s name. He got a kick out of that.

      In any case, I already have ideas for my bench training. I will be using dumbbells on beaches, decline benches, overhead presses, and rows. All of that DB work is because of my still weak right shoulder from my bicycle accident. I got away from using DBs in my last routine as they add to the workout time, since I only have changeable DBs in my home gym. But benches did not go as well in this routine as when I was doing DB work, so am going back to doing it despite the added workout time. The DBs force my right shoulder to work independently of my left.




Warm-ups: 45/11, 135/9, 185/7, 235/5, add gear: 280/3, 325/1 


Planned: 360, 380, 395

Actual: 360, 385, 395


      Deadlift warmups went well, and I had some important goals for them, so I was really psyched for them. My first attempt went good. Then the change for my second attempt was similar as to for squats. I had pulled 380 at this contest last year for the AAPF records, so I jumped to 385 to be sure I at least broke those records. I was bit leery as I had never jumped that much between attempts before, but the lift felt good. Hard, but I knew I still had some strength left.

      I then went to 395. I had pulled 390 at my last contest for the All-time American record. But then someone broke my record by pulling 391, so this lift would be to reclaim my record. The bar came off of the floor slowly but surely. It was then a grind all of the way up, but I got it cleanly and really celebrated afterwards. Definitely the best lift of the day. And with weighing in at only 113.5, it is almost exactly 3-1/2 times bodyweight.

      What probably helped was a change I made in my training at the start of my most recent routine. I began to do most of my assistance work with a 2-1/4” (3 board) deficit. That is probably why the bar seemed to come up from the floor rather easily.

      Since that idea worked so well for deadlifts, I will use a similar one to strengthen the bottom-end of squats. I will do most of my assistance work to an “extra low” depth, going about 1-1/2” below legal depth. I was going a bit lower, 2-1/4” inches, but that was too much, just as the 3” I used to use for deficit deadlifts was also a bit too much. But I took a board off of my platform for deadlifts and will do so for the foam box I use for depth checking for extra low squats.




      I totaled 895 for a new 50s PR, AAPF open and masters records, and All-time American record. But I was a bit disappointed with that, as I was hoping to break 900. But with the health setback, it was just not to be this time and will have to wait until next time. I also missed my first attempt in five contests this decade. It was a bit frustrating to break my perfect streak of going 9/9, but that was bound to happen sooner or later.




      I stayed at a Super 8 Hotel about 15 miles from the contest site. It was off of the main highway (US 36). On the side road it was on, there was a McDonald’s and a BP gas station. Across the street was a Hampton Inn, a Wendy’s, and another gas station. And that was it. Nothing was in sight anywhere along the highway.

      I requested a room on the second (top) floor and way back from the highway. That made for a very quiet hotel. The only noise was when I got woken up by a train at 2:15 am on Friday and Saturday mornings, but strangely not Sunday morning.

      Quiet is the one of two requirements I have for a hotel room. That it is clean and doesn’t smell is the other. That is important due to my allergies/ multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). A couple of times, it has really bothered me in the hotel, but usually it is not too bad, and that was the case this time. That is why I slept rather well the two nights before the contest, except for the train. But even then, I was able to get back to sleep rather quickly.


Venue and MCS Problems


      I crossed those train tracks on my way to the contest venue. It was really out in the boonies. No businesses in sight and very few houses, mostly corn fields.

      The contest venue was the meet director’s gym. It is just a warehouse-looking building on his property, about 20’ back from his house. It is a nicely equipped gym, with a couple of benches, a power rack, a monolift, a deadlift platform, a lot of weight machines, a full complement of dumbbells going up to 140s, and several treadmills for those who like to go for walks without going anywhere.

      Outside in the back, between the gym and the parking area, there are three large tires, I assume for strongman tire flipping. But now, several kids were using them like a jungle gym, climbing onto and jumping off of them. And it was a gorgeous day to be playing outside. I assumed they were children of some of the lifters.

      There were no locker rooms at the gym, so I had changed into my singlet at the hotel and wore a sweat suit over it to the contest, as it was cold in the morning. With no lockers, I planned on using my car as a locker, keeping my main gym bag in it and putting what I needed for the lift at hand into a smaller gym bag. I then went outside to my car between lifts to change my gear around. That is why I arrived early, so I could park as close as possible to the back entrance.

      However, the gym itself was not really big enough for the size of the contest. The people were packed in, and all of the gym equipment and gym bags were scattered all over the floor. As a result, I felt cramped, claustrophobic, kept bumping into someone or being bumped into, and tripping over stuff. Another problem was the bathroom situation, with just one toilet for everyone. I had to wait in line on more than one occasion, throwing off my timing for my warm-ups and attempts.

      The back end of the contest platform was butting up against the warmup area, so as I was tightening my belt and trying to focus before stepping onto the platform, I had people chatting behind me and even bumping into me from behind. All of that threw off my concentration and could have contributed to my missed third squat attempt.

      But most of all, as the lifters and other people started packing in, the heat and smells really built up in the gym and especially in the bathroom, and that was causing me problems with my MCS. Normally, it doesn’t bother me until the contest is over. I’ve always figured adrenaline was holding the symptoms at bay. But this time, I started having problems as soon as the people began crowding in, and it got worse as the day progressed. But thank God it was a gorgeous day outside, so in-between lifts, when I went outside to change my gear around, I stayed out there as long as possible.

      I ate my between lifts snacks outside, waiting until I had to start warming up again to come back inside, watching the kids play on the tires as I waited. But I was getting concerned about getting too much sun. I have barely been in the sun all summer, as normally it bothers me to be outside. But in this case, I was far better off outside than inside.

      After squats, as I sat outside, I remembered a Steelers game from a while back. It had rained for the previous three games, and it was pouring for this one. The announcers were joking, “Raining for a football game in Pittsburgh, what a surprise!” The field was so muddy that rather than bouncing, a punted football stuck in the mud point up, like it was teed up for a kickoff.

      Steelers quarterback Ben Rothlisberger (aka, Big Ben) was noticeably distraught, with the Steelers going three and out on the first couple of drives due to Ben missing a couple of receivers. The announcers were saying that Big Ben just had to accept the fact that this was the way the conditions were going to be as it was going to rain the entire game, and he just had to deal with it. And Big Ben did just that. He finally got focused, started hitting his receivers, and the Steelers came back and won the game. And that is what I did. I accepted the conditions, focused, and thus was able to hang on through benches and deadlifts, going 3/3 on each.


Three Interesting Post-Contest Events


      After I was done lifting, three interesting things happened.


Adorable Little Girl:

      As soon as I pulled my last deadlift and finished celebrating, I went back outside. As I was packing my gear, one of the kids who had been playing on the tires came up and staring talking to me. She was an adorable eight-year old girl named Natalie. She proceeded to keep me company for the next hour and half as I was waiting for the contest to end.

      I have no idea why she took to me. I guess she had seen me sitting outside earlier and my antics on the platform. But most off all, she had been there since 6:30 in the morning when her dad weighed in, and it was now about 2:30 pm, so she was probably bored out of her little skull. But she kept me from getting bored as I was waiting for the trophies to be handed out.

      At one point, I told her I had to go inside as I was getting too much sun. She followed me in. I went to the far end of the gym, away from the contest area and laid on a couch that was strangely there. She pulled up a chair beside me and continued to tell me her life story. You would think that with being just eight she wouldn’t have much of a life story to tell, but she managed to fill up the entire hour and half with it.

      From what she was telling me, it was apparent her family were Christian, which explains why she was such a well-behaved little girl. As it turned out, her dad was a really big dude who won Best Lifter, though he told me I should have won it.


Drug Test:

      It was good that Natalie and I went inside, as I was called to the scorer’s table. I had to go pee in a cup. I have been entering drug free federations or drug free divisions within federations for the past 14 years, but this was the first time I was actually tested. But it will be good to prove that I am in fact drug free, in case anyone doubted it.


Fast Food:

      After the contest, I didn’t feel like eating the same food I brought with me and had eaten all day on Friday after weigh-ins, but my only choices were McDonald’s or Wendy’s. I hadn’t eaten fast food in about 20 years, but I remembered preferring Wendy’s to McDonald’s, so I went there.

      I was still wearing my singlet when I went in and got weird looks from several people. But as I stood in line, the guy in front of me said, “Powerlifting, right.” I replied, “Yup.” He said, “I thought so. My son is a powerlifter. But he’s not in your weight class. He is big boy, about 275.” I replied, “That’s well over my weight class.”

      In any case, I read the board down to a triple burger, but stopped there, as anything more than that was just ridiculous. But all I got was a single burger and a small fry. I took it back to my hotel room to eat after I showered. But frankly, it was too much. I had eaten so much after weigh-ins and during the contest, that I wasn’t that hungry. And besides, there was so much fat in it, I was beginning to feel like I had a bowling ball in my stomach.

      I mention that as before the contest started, I noticed several lifters with McDonald’s boxes, probably from the McDonald’s by my hotel. I will never understand why someone will train for months for a contest then risk messing it up by putting such junk into themselves right before a contest. It is especially nonsensical if the lifter has just weighed in that morning. Carbs not fat is what is needed post-weigh-in. But at least I saw one lifter eating a large bowl of pasta. I said to him, “Finally, someone eating something that makes sense.”

      In any case, with so much fat in fast food and ridiculous things like triple bacon cheeseburgers on the menu, no wonder we have such a fat population. But at least Wendy’s had organic green tea. I got the peach flavored one, and it tasted really good and was probably the healthiest thing on the menu. It’s just sad that all fast food isn’t so healthy. For more on my thoughts in this regard, see my new book Creationist Diet: Second Edition.




      The next morning, I packed up and made the 2-1/2-hour trip home. As I was unpacking, I was sorting things that I needed to wash, which was everything I had with me at the hotel and at the contest. If I couldn’t wash it, I placed it outside to air out. As I was doing so, I was arranging things as much as possible for next time. I did the same last time, and that is why it only took me an hour to pack this time. I’d rather get burned out after a contest doing such stuff than before one.

      But normally, I rest on Monday, spending the day writing up my contest report, then wait until Tuesday and Wednesday to do all of the wash. But for the previous week, they had been forecasting that the Pittsburgh area where I live would get hit with the remnants of Hurricane Irma on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I washed everything I needed to hang outside on Monday then the rest of it on Tuesday. With it bothering me so much at the gym, I had to double wash some of it to get the smell out. That is why it took me until Wednesday to post this contest report. As it turned out, Irma took a turn west, and it didn’t rain at all on Tuesday. But still, I am glad I got it all done.

      As always, all that washing on top of the contest, packing, unpacking, and traveling left me feeling exhausted. But this time, I will try to rest as much as I can the rest of the week. I say that as last time, after washing on Tuesday through Thursday, I went grocery shopping on Friday, and by the end of that day, I had gotten sick and remained so for the next two weeks. It was just too much. But by resting the rest of this week, I am hoping I will be good to go to start training on Sunday (9/17/17).


Future Plans


      As I said, this contest was very well run, and I got along very well with Wade and John, the meet directors. And the rest of the personal were all also very friendly, and I would like to thank all of them for their efforts. Putting on a contest is not easy. This was the second time I entered APF Ohio States and both went well. But I doubt I will enter it next year if it is in the same location. I just don’t think I can handle the conditions again.

      But that is too far off to think about already. For now, I just want to get back into training and focus on my next contest. That will probably be in March 2018, though exact contest TBD. As always, I didn’t have anyone with me to take pictures of my lifts, but I took pictures of my hotel and the contest venue, if anyone is interested. Below is a picture of me holding my trophy after I got home. Click for a larger image. I really like this picture. It combines three things that are important to me: powerlifting, the Steelers, and my Christian faith. The full meet results are posted on the WPC/ APF's website: Ohio State Meet.

For details on the new training plan I am planning on using after this contest, see Tetra Raw Powerlifting Training Plan: Overview and Summary.

For my first workouts using this plan, see 2017-18 Tetra Raw Powerlifting Training Plan: Rotations I and II.

The above contest report was posted on this site September 13, 2017.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
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