Lifting at the 2016 Sussex Powerlifting Championships

by Dr. Graham

Published: Fri, 08 Jul 2016


I was fortunate to be one of thirty lifters who participated in the Sussex Championships on June 5, 2016, in Hove, England. The facility was small, but adequate, and the event organizers had taken care of so many of the details that make an event either a pleasure or most inconvenient. Powerlifting competitions don’t get much smaller than this one, so the pressure wasn’t huge, and the overall feel of the event was friendly and supportive. I knew most of the judges, having met them at previous competitions, and they were a bit friendlier to me than usual, while still “all business” when I was on the lifting platform. I knew none of the other lifters, but found all of them friendly enough. Most of the guys my age who are still lifting go to the big events and don’t bother so much with the small ones. I needed the practice, and the competition experience, so that I can do better in future at the bigger events, should I choose to go. Hence I believe I was the only competitor over forty years of age.

I arrived at 8:30 in the morning, accompanied by one of my fellow lifters, Steve, who served as my coach for this competition. Also my good friend Micki came along, to take some photos and enjoy the atmosphere. I signed in, weighed in, and gave my intended opening lift weights. The event wouldn’t start until ten, and it was not yet nine. Tom Petty got it right. The waiting is the hardest part. I was lifting in “B” group, alternating with “A” group. We had twelve lifters in each group, and figured each discipline would take about three minutes per competitor, or roughly thirty-five minutes. “A” group warmed up for the ten o’clock start. When they started lifting, “B” group started warming up. I’ve streamlined my warm-up routine, and the day was warm, which made the warm-ups even easier.

Health and Fitness Week

Squat is the first event. My warm-ups were five reps at 20Kg, just the bar with no weights. Four reps with 40Kg. Three reps with 60Kg. Two reps with 80Kg. A single with 100 and another with 110 and I was ready. I walked on stage when called, squatted 117.5 extra deep, so as to make my point, and came up easily enough. The initial jitters began to quiet down. I had my first lift, getting three white lights. I felt equally as confident with 127.5 for my second lift, but didn’t feel the need to go incredibly deep. I thought I was deep enough, and after reviewing films I still think I was deep enough, but the judges didn’t think so, and I failed the lift. Steve said, “Not even close.” The weight hadn’t felt that heavy. I wanted to squat heavy and built my total. But no way was I going to go for 135 on my third attempt. I suggested 130, but Steve said, “Just repeat the lift,” which is what I did. I showed the judges 127.5 with confidence, got three white lights, and a PB as far as the best I’ve done in a competition. Oh, and the 127.5 set a Sussex record for my age/weight group.

I had an even shorter warm up for bench press, and I already knew what I could and couldn’t do. Five reps at 20, four more at 40, three at 50, two at 60, and one at 65 and I was ready for my opener at 70, which went smoothly, with no hitch. I chose 75 for my second lift and got it confidently too, though I could tell I was working fairly hard to complete the lift. I suggested to Steve that I not even try a third lift, but he said go for it, you never know. To my surprise, I almost made the 77.5, which gave me great confidence for the future. I failed the lift, but was still happy with the 75 from the second lift.

I put in my intention slip to lift 175, which would be a first for me.

Deadlift is my favorite, and I don’t mind that it is the last discipline. Of course, lifting for all you’re worth eventually tires you, and so I had to muster some emotion and enthusiasm to go after another series of heavy lifts. I enjoy all aspects of deadlift, even the warm ups. I took my time and completed 5 reps at 70, 4 reps at 110, 3 at 140, and 1 at 150, all of which felt relatively easy. When called onto the platform I showed the judges a clean lift at 160, and in the second round a clean 170, though I had to work a fair bit. White lights were everywhere. I felt sure I could pull 172.5, but Steve said, “Go for it, and lift 175.” I put in my intention slip to lift 175, which would be a first for me. I got myself psyched and faced the bar. I did what I always do, and gave my best effort. The bar didn’t move, and I just kept on pushing the floor. After about four seconds, after most of the audience had given up on me, the weights crept off of the floor, and I knew I could finish the lift. I got to the top and the audience gave me a great ovation. Heck, I wasn’t aware that anyone was watching. After the lift, several other lifters complimented my effort. 175 was a PB, and I’d worked right near the limits of my capacity, which is what I want out of all three final lifts at a competition. 175 also set a new Sussex record, as did the total of 377.5.  I can imagine a better day, but to actually have one will be rare, I’d think.

Now I’ve got to go back to the gym and get to work. I’ve raised my expectations. Hopefully, by the next time I compete, I can show 130 or better on the squat, and a 77.5 bench. By year’s end, I’d like to be honestly thinking that a 180 deadlift is possible. I’m willing to do the training, and loving the results.

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