Monday, March 3, 2014

My Day At The Arnold

This past Friday, Kelsi and I took a trip to Columbus so that I could compete in the weightlifting competition at The Arnold Classic.

Gotta say, it was pretty fucking awesome. I really wanted to lift there because of the size of the event, the whole thing is massive. Let's be honest, I'll never make it to the Nationals or American Open. I'm not exactly what I'd call a "good lifter"; a few weeks ago Dan Bell said "you're not exactly what I'd call a lightning fast guy". Lifting at the Arnold will pretty much be my only chance to lift at events of that size, so I'm going to take it where I can get it.

When I first got there, I got lost trying to find the weightlifting event and ended up walking around the expo and it was awful. There were a million people there and it was cheesedick central; an absurd number of bro's in affliction shirts or v necks with fake tans and tight jeans. The sleeve monster had apparently come through and eaten a large majority of the sleeves and also deposited a ton of hair gel. I was surprised at the ratio of skinny guys with fake tans vs. huge guys with strong beards.

I finally found my way to the platforms and it was really cool. My coach Mark had just finished lifting so I found my training partner Nate and went into the training room to get weighed in. When we walked in Nate started telling me who he'd seen already, I asked if Jon North was going to lift without warming up and then I realized he was sitting directly behind me tying his shoes. This ended up being the coolest part of the meet for me; I got to sit in the training room and see a ton of the best American weightlifters go through some light training. All in all I ended up seeing North, Farris, Spencer Arnold, Natalie Johnson, Sam Lower, Holley Mangold, Caleb Whitby, Collin Burns, Lidia Valentin (she was so fucking fast) and the whole MDUSA team.

Sitting around watching these athletes all train let me see little differences in everyones technique, which helped me realize how silly all of the internet debates about technique are. Every lifter is different, and thus there is no single technique that is right for everyone. As you advance, you'll find out what is the most efficient way for you to move the bar and complete the lifts, the minutiae isn't so important. I also got to see how they warmed up and prepped for lifts; Sam Lower would step away from the bar and "re-set" herself before every rep, even during triples. Jon North makes the same noises for an empty bar snatch as he does for 155kg. James Tatum did more pre-lift mobility than anyone else. Lidia Valentin is embarrassingly fast and is way bigger than you'd expect.

Valentin snatching 115 kg...which is what I clean and jerked. Photo: Hookgrip
As for the competition itself, it could've gone better for me. Truthfully, I should be "happy" about it, but I expected more out of myself. I ended up snatching 90kg and clean and jerking 115kg for a 205kg total at 94.47kg bodyweight. This was my second competition; 90kg ties my meet PR (training PR is 95) and 115kg ties my training PR and becomes my new meet PR.

I'm pissed at myself because 90kg was my opening weight for the snatch and I had to use all 3 attempts to make it. In the warm-up room, 85kg felt like nothing; I smoked it and went to the main platform extremely confident. I caught it too far behind my head and couldn't hold the weight. My head was all fucked for attempt 2 and I wasted it. I finally made the lift on attempt 3 and the announcer said "well that looked easy"...because it WAS easy. I wanted to give myself a chance at 100kg but I fucked it up. Mark and Dan Bell have been drilling my snatch technique a ton since I started lifting out here, and while I think I've shown improvements I didn't get to realize it on this day. I was pissed but was able to clear my head going into cleans.

When I was warming up my cleans, everything felt easy. Mark noticed that I was basically catching 100kg as power, and it was because it felt light. Jerks were crisp (for me) and fast. I was super confident going out to open at 110kg and it felt like a great lift. The lifter going before me had also dropped his ammonia tab on the ground right next to me, so I had a whiff of that before going out. I went back and power cleaned 90 to stay ready and grabbed an ammonia tab out of my own bag. When I stood up with 115 on the main platform I felt lightheaded but made the jerk anyway. As I walked backstage I guess I looked glassy because Mark had to ask if I was going to pass out. I had given myself the opportunity try 120, and was pretty excited about it. The clean was easy, but my form turned to shit and I basically pushed myself away from the bar during the jerk.

Overall, I'm pretty unhappy with how I did. I really want 100/120/220 and I know that it's in my grasp. But that's the "fun" part about training; there's always more work to be done. Even if you're the best in the world, you can always improve.

My new program starts today. I'm going to cut the volume of my competition lifts a little and focus on quality reps on exercises that will help me clean up my technique. My snatch technique needs a ton of work (always early into my toes, have trouble moving my feet out when I receive the bar) and I'm going to make a big push on fixing that before I compete again. With my jerk, my technique feels pretty ok at lighter weights but falls to shit when it starts to get heavy. I need to get more comfortable jerking heavy weights, and my next month of programming will help to fix that. Above all that, I want to get stronger. I don't feel strong enough right and I really want my squat numbers to go up. I know this added strength will aid in me feeling more stable with heavy weights overhead.

All in all, I'm really happy I went to the Arnold, and I'm looking forward to getting better. Loving the process of training is the best part of competition. I really want to thank Mark Hansbrough for taking me under his wing and helping me out, and congratulate him for taking 3rd in his group with a 268 total. I also want to thank and congratulate Nate Napolitano for training with me and for qualifying for University Nationals as an 85kg with a 208 total. Great job guys; when's the next meet?

Have a great day, and go lift some heavy shit!

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