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IPA Pennsylvania State Powerlifting Championships - 2017

Contest Report

By Gary F. Zeolla

9/9 with 27 white lights

Three Personal Records

Four IPA Records

Three All-time American Records

One All-time World Record


      For a review of my training routine leading up to this contest, see 2016-17 Training Plan Review.

      I competed in the Pennsylvania State Powerlifting Championships for the International Powerlifting Association (IPA) in York, PA on Saturday, March 4, 2017. I entered the men’s 114 pound weight class, master (55-59 years old) age division, raw with wraps gear division, Amateur (drug-tested) division.

      This was the third time entering this contest. As such, the 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 the last two years. For details on these issues, see my contest reports for IPA PA States: 2015 and IPA PA States: 2016.

      But one difference was the previous two times I entered this contest, I was in the 50-54 age category, while this time I was in the 55-59 age category. There were no IPA records in this category, so all of my lifts would be for IPA records. But I was still thinking in terms of wanting to better what I did last time. That was because my all-time records are for 50-59 age, so there was not change there.

      Also, the hotel was worse than last time. They didn’t give me the room I requested, a bunch of stuff was broken in it, and it bothered me more allergy-wise than before. The stupidest thing I will get to in a moment.




      I weighed 121.0 pounds on Sunday morning (2/26). I needed to weigh 114.5 on Friday morning at 10:00 am for weigh-ins. I cut weight in the same manner as I have been, eating only low fat animal protein and low calorie vegetables, plus sodium and water manipulation.

      I weighed 115.2 pounds first thing Friday morning. If I could have just moved my bowels, I would have been fine. But I just couldn’t go. Of all times to be constipated! But as it was, I needed to take a hot bath. But here is where the stupid hotel almost got me. There was no plug for the drain in the tub!

      I called the desk and was told by the clerk who could barely speak English, “We have no plugs” (at least that’s what I think he said.) But thank God I had a bottle with me that just fit in the hole. It worked well enough that I got the tub full. But the water leaked, so I had to keep adding hot water. I probably wasted a whole lot of the hotel’s water, but it’s their fault for not having a plug. In any case, after the bath, I was down to 114.8, so I knew it would be close.

      I was anxious to get weighed in, so I arrived at the contest site early and so did Ellen Chaillet, so I weighed in at 9:45 am. When I first stepped on the scale, Ellen said I weighed 114.75, but I was still wearing my underwear and necklace. I took them off and stepped on the scale again and was at exactly 114.5. When I got out of the weigh-in room, another lifter asked if I made weight. I told him, “After taking off my necklace.” He replied, “That’s the way to do it.” When I got back to my hotel room, out of curiosity, I weighed myself with and without the underwear and necklace, and sure enough it made a difference of 0.2 pounds. Good to know. The morning of the contest, my weight was back up to 119.0, so I regained most of what I had lost.


Training and Peaking


      As discussed in my “Training Plan Review” article, my training had not gone well throughout most of my Pre-Contest Routine, so I was feeling a bit unsure about my attempts for this contest. But I used a new plan for peaking for this contest, and those peaking workouts had gone well, at least on benches and deadlifts. As such, I had my openers set, but I had a range written down for my second and third attempts based on how my openers felt. But I was feeling good as the contest began. It helped that I took a hot shower before leaving my hotel room. That woke me up and loosened me up, so I had no problems hitting depth as I started warning up for squats.


Number of Contestants and Warm-ups


      There were about 55 registered lifters, divided into three flight of about 14 lifters each for squats. Benches and deadlifts had a few lifters more in each flight due to the bench only, deadlift only, and push/ pull lifters. I was about twelfth up for each lift in the first flight. My flight consisted of all of the females and teenagers who were lifting raw, with me being the lone adult male.

      I tried to time my warmup so that I did my final warmup when the first lifter was doing her first attempt. I got it right for squats and benches, but I started too early on deadlifts and had to drag out my warmups so as not to be finished too early. But other than that miscue, warmups were uneventful, so onto the contest platform.




Gear: Crain: singlet, power belt, Genesis wrist wraps, 3.0-meter Genesis knee wraps; Dexter boots.
Warm-ups: --/15, 65/10, 135/9, 170/7, 205/5, add gear: 250/3, 270/1 

Planned: 290, 305/ 310, 320/ 325
Actual: 290, 310, 325

      My final squat workout got messed up due to trying out longer wraps. They were the same brand, Crain Genesis wraps, but 3.0 meters rather than the 2.5 meters I had been using. And it took until my final set in that workout to figure out how to make use of that extra 0.5 meters. But that set left me feeling somewhat confident but still unsure about what to attempt at the contest.

      In that workout, I initially planned on doing 4 sets x 4,3,2,1 reps and then opening with the four-rep set’s weight and my second attempt being the double’s weight. But I ended up doing 290/3, 305/1, 315/1. Since I didn’t do a set of four reps, I opened with a tad less than the triple’s weight at 290, and it was rather easy.

      For my second attempt, I went with the higher planned number of 310. I sat back a bit too much, making the lift a bit harder than it should have been, but still, it was not super hard. For my third attempt, the former planned number would better my squat at IPA PA States last year while the later would break my all-time record from six months before. I went for the later and got it with just a bit of strength to spare. I might have been good for five pounds more, but it would have been iffy, and I was happy with the 325. I really did not think I would break my all-time record again this time, and I probably was only able to do so due to the extra half meter of wrap. That probably made a difference of five pounds or so. As such, after debating about it for some time, I am glad I finally got the longer wraps.

      It should be noted that I squatted ten pounds more at the contest than I did in training. However, that set of 315 in training had been with strength to spare. In fact, I might have been able to double it. If I had, I probably would have tried another set, a single with 325. But in that workout, I was so uncomfortable due to the new wraps that I didn’t want to push it, so I stopped with that final set that felt good. But what that means is I probably could have done the same in training that I did at the contest.




Gear: Crain: singlet, power belt, Genesis wrist wraps; AdiPower Lifting Shoes
Warm-ups: 50/15, 85/9, 105/7, 120/5, add gear: 135/3, 145/1 

Planned: 155, 165/ 170, 175/ 180
Actual: 155, 165, 175 

      After hitting my higher possible weights on squats, I was unsure on what to do on benches. The way my peaking workout had gone, it pointed towards me only doing the lower numbers. My warmups were also laid out so as to set me up for the lower numbers. But that would leave me only tying my bench from IPA PA States last year and five pounds less than my 50s PR set six months before. But I was leery to go heavier than my plan dictated, especially since benches have generally been the lift that takes the biggest hit from cutting weight. As such, I stuck with the original plan.

      My opener was very easy and what I had done for four reps in training. The second attempt was a bit hard and what I had done for a double, but it was with plenty of strength to spare. I then went to my lower planned weight final attempt of 175 and got it with strength to spare. I probably could have done 5-10 pounds more. But the 175 was already with five pounds more than I had done in training for a single, and with cutting weight, I was leery about pushing it. However, I might need to get the idea of benches taking a hit from cutting weight out of my mind. That as the case back in college and in the ‘00s, but it has not been the case for all four contest I have now entered in the ‘10s. That is probably because I got my cut weight/ refuel/ rehydrate plan down so pat that I do not lose any strength.

      On the other hand, I did have a bit of a form problem on that final attempt. My right arm wobbled as I was coming up off of the chest. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but I was able to recover from it. But maybe if I was pushing it to the limit, that might not have been the case, so I might have missed it if I had gone up to 180 or 185. But whatever the case, it is clear my peaking plan worked, as I did five pounds more more at the contest than I did in training and that with strength to spare.

      But that wobble does concern me. It could be due to my still weak right shoulder from my bicycle accident many years ago. I haven’t been using dumbbells much of late, but maybe I should do so again to try to improve the strength difference. With dumbbells, my stronger left shoulder cannot pull along my weaker right shoulder like it does with a barbell.

      In any case, the 175 was an IPA record, so I could have tried a fourth attempt. I thought of it, for about two seconds, then dismissed the idea. Adding another five pounds to my bench that wouldn’t count towards my total was not the worth risk of tiring myself out for deadlifts.




Gear: Crain singlet, power belt; CVS knee sleeves; APT wrist bands; Nike wrestling shoes
Warm-ups: --/15, 50/10, 140/9, 195/7, 250/5, add gear: 300/3, 330/1

Planned: 350, 370, 385/ 390
Actual:  350, 370, 390 

      With having to drag out my deadlift warmups, they did not feel good.  But with what had happened with both squats and benches, I had no indecision about deadlifts. I was going to go for the higher weight on my third attempt, which would break my all-time American deadlift and total records.

      My opener was what I had done for four reps in training and the second attempt was the double’s weights. The opener felt rather hard, and the second attempt more so. But that did not deter me from going for the records breaking weight on my third attempt. I knew that if I could just get it started I would get the lift. And that is what happened.

      As soon as the weights broke from the floor, I knew I would get the lift. I just had to stick with it and keep pulling. I got it to lockout with a bit of strength to spare. Like squats, maybe I could have done five pounds more, but it would have been iffy. But as it was, the 390 was with ten pounds more than I had done in training, and it did not adversely affect me doing that final workout just six days out. And I was more than happy with it. I jumped up and down with arms upraised and bounded off of the platform to several fist bumps and congrats from other lifters.


Comparison to Training


      What all of talk of comparison to training is about is it means my new peaking plan works. If anything, I was a bit conservative in basing my attempts on it. And if I had actually followed it for squats and had more confident in it for benches (along with in my cutting weight, post-weigh-in plan), I might have been prepared to try a bit more for both lifts. That was seen in deadlifts, where things went the best I could have hoped for.


Total and 9/9


      At my last contest, I totaled 885. I squatted five pounds more this time than then, benched five pounds less, and deadlifted five pounds more. That means of course I totaled 890 this time, just five pounds more. But given how much I messed up my training this cycle, I am happy with that. A small improvement is sill an improvement. And I learned a lot from this training cycle and contest that should prove helpful when I begin training for my next contest.

      I am also very happy about going 9/9 with 27 white lights for the fourth contest in a row. As indicated, I might have been able to do bit on more benches, but I pushed it just about to the limit on squats and deadlifts. And that has been the case for all of my contests in the ‘10s. I am going 9/9 while still pushing things just about as hard as could be. On a lift here and there, I might have been able to do a bit more, but not much. And I’d rather go 9/9 with leaving a few pounds on the platform than push pass my limit and miss lifts, resulting in a much lower total. One reason for this success is the way I train. I do three work sets, increasing the weight set to set, so a contest is almost just like another workout.


The Contest Itself


      Once again, it was a long contest, but near as long as last year. It started right on time at 9:30 am. I pulled my final deadlift at about 5:00 pm and was out of there with my trophy at 7:30. But the staff needed to do it all over again for Session Two on Sunday. Thanks to them for their hard work for what I am sure was to be a long weekend.


After Lifting


      As for myself, 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. I then changed into my street clothes and sat in the audience area and watched the last flight and waited for my trophy, while talking to a friend. I then want back to my hotel room, showered, laid down at 8:15 pm and promptly fell asleep.

      I woke up an hour later, ate a small snack, then went to bed and slept until my normal wake up time. The next morning, I did not feel as sore as I usually do after a contest. That could be due to the stretching and glutamine, or maybe the peaking schedule had prepared me so well that the contest was not as much of a shock as usual. But whatever the case, I packed and drove home, then unpacked, being careful to arrange things so as to make packing easier for next time. By the time it was all done, it was late in the afternoon, and I was exhausted. I now have a lot of washing to do this week, then some grocery shopping. I’ll try to get some rest in-between, then I’ll start training again on Sunday, March 12, 2017.


New Training Plan and Next Contest Plans


      For my next training plan, I will stick with what I know works for most aspects of my training. However, I will be making a significant change to the overall design of my training plan that will necessitate a new name for it. I will explain that later, along with all of the specifics of my new plan.

      As for my next contest, there is tentatively set to be an IPA contest in the Pittsburgh area on August 26, 2017. If that happens, it will be just a half an hour drive from my home and will definitely be my next contest. If that contest doesn’t happen, then there are usually at least a couple of other contests in August or September that I could choose from.

      But for now, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for enabling me to continue to not only compete in the sport that I love but to do so successfully. To Him be all the glory. 

“The Lord stood by me and gave me strength” (2Timothy 4:17).

For pictures and videos of me from the contest, see IPA Pennsylvania State Powerlifting Championships - 2017 - Pictures and Videos.

The full contest results are posted on the IPA's website at: 2017 IPA PA State Championships.

For an overview of my new training plan, see Trinity Training Plans Overview.

For my first workouts after this contest, see 2017 Trinity - 1 Powerlifting Training Plan: Rotations I & II of VIII.


Hotel Review

The hotel I stayed at was the Econo Lodge in York, PA, a part of the Choice Hotel system. They requested I write a review of the hotel. Below is my review.

Everything was broken:

        You want a review, I will give you one. I have stayed at your hotel twice before, a year ago (March 2016) and a year before that (March 2015). Both of these stays were for a powerlifting contest I was competing in at York Barbell a few miles away.

        I did not like your hotel the first year, as the room was too noisy, both from noises in the parking lot and from the heater knocking. I also had a terrible time regulating the heat, given that here was just a knob for a thermostat with no temperature numbers. But after fiddling with it all weekend, I finally figured out where to set it and took a picture so I’d know next time.

        I stayed there again the next year, as it was the only hotel in the area that I could afford. But I requested a different room that was further down, hoping the parking lot noise would be better, which it was, as was the heater. At least it didn’t knock. I thus tried to request the same room this time. But each time I called, the person who answered the phone could barely speak English and thus could not seem to understand what I was requesting or told me he could not help me.

        After much frustration and half a dozen calls, I finally got a person who could actually understand English. I told her which room I wanted, and she seemed to understand. But when I arrived at the hotel, I was put in a different room than the one I requested.

        After a four-hour drive, all I wanted to do was take a shower, lay down, turn on the TV, and relax. But when I tried to turn on the TV, there were no batteries in the remote. I thus had to call the desk. But for some strange reason, the hotel phone was on the other side of the room, rather than being on the end table by the bed. So I had to get up, go across the room, and stand there talking to the desk. The clerk said she’d bring a pair of batteries, so I laid back down, but then had to get up again to answer the door.

        She gave me the batteries. I put them in the remote and laid down again. But the remote still did not work. So after fiddling with it some, I had to get up, go across, the room, and stand there while I called the desk again. Mind you, at this point I am getting exhausted due to my fibromyalgia. The clerk told me there were instructions on programming the remote by the TV.

        I found the instructions, laid back down, and tried to program the remote, but to no avail. So once again, I had to get up and call the desk. She said she’d come up and try to program the remote. But due to my multiple chemical sensitivities, I really did not want anyone to come into my room after I was in it. That is why I had previously told her I did not want housekeeping while I was there. I thus told her I would just do without the TV the whole weekend, and that is what I did.

        Instead, I listened to Christian and political talk shows on my phone and tablet. But that was difficult as your Wi-Fi left a lot to be desired. I would have a hard time connecting when I put on a new show, and it kept dropping off after I did.

        Then when I finally got some rest, I began unpacking. I had some tall containers I planned on putting on the door of the fridge, but the bar on the door was missing. Since the fridge was so tiny, I couldn’t lay them down on the shelves as I had other stuff that filled that space up, so I had no choice but to put them on the door. But that meant every time I opened the door, the containers fell out, and I had to pick them up and put them on the door again.

        Then when I was ready to go to bed, I tried to set the alarm clock, but it kept going back to a flashing “12:00.” After much fiddling, I realized that both the radio and the outlet it was plugged into were not working quite right. I thus moved the clock to across the room, unplugged the TV since I wasn’t able to use it anyways, and plugged the radio into that outlet instead. I was able to set the clock, but the radio still did not work. And with it across the room, it wasn’t convenient for an alarm clock, so I used my phone for both.

        Then when I tried to close the curtain, the rod was missing to pull the curtain closed, so I had to grab a handful of curtain and tug on it to close it. I managed, but it was a pain to do each time I opened or closed the curtain. I later found the rod behind the dresser but had no ladder to stand to replace it.

        But the worse part of my stay was the next morning. As I said, I was there to compete in a powerlifting contest. For it, had cut several pounds and was still a pound overweight for my weight class. But I knew from experience that I can lose a pound from a long hot bath. But there was no plug for the drain in the tub!

        I called the desk yet again and was told by the clerk who could barely speak English, “We have no plugs” (at least that’s what I think he said.) But thank God I had a bottle with me that just fit in the hole. It worked well enough that I got the tub full. But the water leaked, so I had to keep adding hot water. I probably wasted a whole lot of the hotel’s water, but it’s your fault for not having a plug. Buy at least I mad weight due to jimmy rigging.

        Meanwhile, once again, I was fiddling with the thermostat on the heater. I set it the same as I did in my other room based on the picture I took. But that did not work, as I woke up in the middle of the night, too cold the first night and too hot the second night. But it was set the same both nights.

        The whole time I am going through all of these frustrations, I couldn’t help but think I probably would not have had these problems if you had just given me the room I had requested in the first place. But given that you do not have people answering the phone who can speak English, I guess that was too complex of request.

        Will I stay you’re your hotel if I enter the same contest next year? Maybe, as it is all I can afford. But I guess the saying is true, “You get what you pay for.”

The above contest report was posted on this site March 7, 2017.
The hotel review was added March 8, 2017.

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