After many years of lifting heavy and pushing my strength limits, I finally took the plunge and competed in my first powerlifting meet. Joining me for what was also his first powerlifting competition was my partner, Christophe. I wanted to document and share our experience here with some video, pics, stats and some random observations on the first of what will likely be many more competitions for us both.

We competed in the USPA (United States Powerlifting Association) Sonoma County Open, Cotati, CA, November 19, 2017.

We competed in the Mens, Full Power (Squat, Bench, Deadlift), Raw Categories. I competed in the Master age group (45-49) and in the 140.0 kg (308 Lb) weight class. Christophe competed in the Sub-Master age group (35-39) and in the 125.0 kg (275 Lb) weight class.


In a “Full Power” competition, each lifter has 3 attempts at each event: Squat, Bench, Deadlift. All lifts are for a single rep. For the first attempt, lifters usually attempt a weight that they feel confident they can lift. Second and third attempts are usually at or near the lifter’s max or an attempt at a new PR.  The heaviest qualifying lift in each event counts toward your total. Your total is the added sum of your best lifts in each event for the day.

There are 3 judges evaluating your lifts, watching that you execute the lifts according to the rules of the federation. For a lift to count, at least 2 of the 3 judges must give a white light, indicating the lift is good. Each federation has its own rules and standards for each lift as well as for the competition in general.


My best lifts are shown in the video at the top.

  • Squat: 540 Lbs
  • Bench: 430 Lbs
  • Deadlift: 535 Lbs
  • TOTAL: 1505 Lbs

My goal for the day was to gain experience and set the bar for myself with a 1500 Total. I got all 9 of my lifts and had the heaviest bench of the day. Finished with a Master ranking (1505 total). Earned 1st Place in my division.

Christophe’s best lifts are shown in the video below.

  • Squat: 485 Lbs
  • Bench: 325 Lbs
  • Deadlift: 568 Lbs
  • TOTAL: 1378 Lbs
Christophe’s goal was also to experience his first meet and to set the bar for himself with an official total. He got 8 out of 9 lifts and landed a new PR on his Deadlift. Finished with a Class 2 ranking. Earned 1st Place in his division.



Endurance – Competing “Full Power” is a long day. We started at 8 am with stretching and warm ups, lifting started at 9 am and finished around 4-5 pm, with an award ceremony to follow. With approximately 60 lifters in 4 flights, it was usually 90 minutes between events (squats, bench and deads). Timing warm ups for each event was very important. Having snacks, water and energy drinks on hand was essential. Just making it through the entire day was a rewarding accomplishment in itself.

Support – Competing with Christophe was a great experience. From the day we signed up, we worked together to prepare and train. On the day of competition we were there for each other, supporting each other and sharing the experience. In the weeks we prepared we reached out to experienced friends who freely offered advice and wisdom, which proved to be very useful. Also, a good number of friends came to show support and to take pics and videos (which ended up being used in this post).  We benefited a great deal from the support we found in each other and from friends.

Feeding off the Energy – Fellow competitors, the crowd, the spotters, the atmosphere; everything came together and charged the day with a feeling of energy and excitement. It felt like everyone wanted us to succeed. It helped propel me through the long day and gave me energy for each lift, energy I didn’t know I had.

Preparation – Being our first meet, we were not sure the best approach for our training and preparations. Asking advice and trusting our guts led us to an approach where we focused  on practicing specifically for the 3 lifts of the competition. Using the USPA rulebook we practiced our lifts using commands and taking videos of our form to ensure we executed each lift according to the judging standards. Mobility work became a big part of our preparation, with lots of dynamic and static stretching and foam rolling. We ate big for weeks, supplementing with gainer protein, creatine, glutamine, fish oil and multi-vitmains. The last week before competition was mostly a rest week with only 1 light workout a few days ahead of competition, just to keep the muscles and nervous system ready.

Catching the Bug – We both went into this meet not knowing what to expect, but determined to do our best and to set the bar for ourselves for future competitions. We have already signed up for our next meet in February, 2018. With official totals on record, we know better what we are capable of in a competition setting and we intend to set some serious goals for our next meet. Both of us would like to push ourselves harder next time, working toward a higher total and improving our rankings.  I have also enrolled to become a USPA Certified Powerlifting Coach. The certification class is in March and I’m looking forward to helping myself and others with the knowledge I will gain.



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