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My Powerlifting Background
Part Three

by Gary F. Zeolla

Part Two of this article took my story up to May of 2003. This third part will pick up the story 2-1/2 years later.

October 26, 2005 Update

Contest Performance Update

After how well things went at my first contest, both health-wise and performance-wise, I decided to continue powerlifting. I entered two more contests in 2003, one in 2004, and one in 2005. I competed at 114s for all of these meets. See Contest Reports for details on these contests. But I'll mention here that contest to contest, my lifts and total gradually went up, so that to date, my best lifts and total are:

Squat: 410
Bench: 215
Deadlift: 410
Total: 1030

I am now ranked #1 on Powerlifting USA's Top 20 Masters chart for 114s, and #5 on the Top 100 chart. These were two of my goals after my first contest, to be #1 in the masters division and in the top 5 overall. Another goal was to equal or better my college bests at 114s, which I have done. I have also broken 15 different IPA records. Not bad considering all that I have been through. See Summary of Powerlifting Contests, USA Ranking, Records, and Times Bodyweight for full details. 

Health and Training Update

However, I have continued to have struggles and setbacks health-wise. Fatigue has continued to be a problem, and my allergies, after seeming to improve for some time, got worse again. Only now, rather than ending up paralyzed when I am exposed to something I am allergic to, I simply cannot sleep. There have been many, many nights when I have gotten at best a couple of hours of sleep. And needless to say, this has affected me both physically and emotionally.

I have continued to do NAET treatments. The foods I have treated for seem to clear okay, but I still have problems with pesticides and artificial food ingredients. So I have no choice but to eat almost exclusively natural and organic foods. But more problematic are environmental allergies, especially cosmetic products, and basically, any kind of strong smells. Just being around anyone wearing perfume, cologne, or even just lots of make-up is a problem. Especially problematic is being a closed room with a lot of people. So, for instance, I have not been able to got to church in over two years.

I am allergic to every allergy medication I have tried. I have also tried various supplements that are purported to help with allergies, but I was either allergic to them, they caused negative side effects, or they simply didn't work. It is not possible to get allergy shots for the types of things I am allergic to. And I have already tried every alternative treatment I know of. So I really am left with no options at this point.

What I am now suffering from could best be described as "multiple chemical sensitivities" (MCS). And as with most people with MCS, I am beign forced to live a mostly isolated life. And this leads tot he next point.

Meanwhile, as with most powerlifters, I had a hard time finding a gym that is supportive of powerlifters. I changed gyms three times between May of 2003 and July of 2004. But from then until August 2005 I was working out at the Iron Pit in Leechburg, PA. This was a great gym, and the owner was very supportive of my lifting. However, it was about a 25 minute drive each way, and with my continuing fatigue, that amount of driving on top of lifting was just too much. I believe this is why my total only went up five pounds from my contest in 2004 to my one in 2005.

The Iron Pit is a key-entry gym, so you can workout any time, 24/7. And I would usually lift at time when no one else was in the gym. But when people did come in, it would cause me problems allergy-wise, making it difficult to finish my workouts. Add to this the increasing cost of gas, and at the end of August, 2005, I decided to set-up a home gym.

Unfortunately, I ran into a lot of problems setting up the gym. See Setting Up a Home Gym for details in this regard. But suffice it to say here, it hurt my training enough that I had to forgo entering a second contest in 2005. But since I finally got things set-up, my training has gone very well. So it was the right decision. I was lifting alone anyway at the Iron Pit, but this way I don't have the long drive tiring me out, and the concerns about smells bothering me.

Meanwhile, over the summer of 2005, a blood test showed that I had clinically low testosterone levels. And that could also be a big part of my continuing problems. The low testosterone levels could both be caused by the lack of sleep and contributing to my difficulty with insomnia. there might also be a relationship with my MCS. But due tot he MCS, I was unable to utilize testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) as I am allergic to chemicals in the gels and patches. In a way, this was for the best. Any form of TRT would be considered "drug" usage and would prevent me from competing in any drug-tested powerlifting.

So I am trying to utilize "natural" methods to raise my testosterone levels. I tried various supplements that are purported to help, but I had the same problems as with the allergy supplements. However, I have gotten quite a bit of benefit from dietary changes. See Hormones and Diet for details in this regard.

As for my training, the most important point is I have decided that I will only be competing with gear, specifically, double-ply gear. So I have completely revamped my training philosophy. Basically, I now train the powerlifts exclusively with gear or with bands and chains. And this focus has aided my training progress. For details on in this regard, see Training Routine Format - Part Three: Changes.

Bodyweight Update and Contest Plans

I mentioned in Part One that in college I had competed first at 114s then 123s, with a training weight for the latter of 128 pounds. But when I stopped lifting, my bodyweight dropped to 112. It then rose to 117 when I was working out with Nautilus, but then dropped all the way down to 106 pounds when I was at the worst of my stiff person syndrome. It then rose again to 117 when I started powerlifting again.

Since then, my bodyweight has gradually risen, and I am now up to 124 pounds. So in the four years since I was at my worst, I have gained 18 pounds, mostly muscle. Not bad for someone in their mid-40s. But with the weight increase, it has become increasingly difficult to make weight for 114s for each contest I entered. So I might move up to 123s for my next contest. If I do, this will mean I am following the pattern I did in college; first competing at 114s, then at 123s.

My main goals at 123s would be to better all of my lifts and total from college at 123s. I will also be hoping to break additional IPA records at 123s. But placement in the Top 20 Masters and Top 100 chart will be more difficult at 123s than it was at 114s, but if I get my lifts up sufficiently, I hope to still be ranked near the top of both lists.

As of this writing, my plans are to wait to compete again until the next Iron House Classic, set for April 1, 2006. This will give me time to get my lifts up for my new weight class. I am now posting Full Workout Logs to for anyone who is interested in following my progress.


Below are all of the links that appeared in this three-part article in the order of occurrence.

Bicycle Accident Story

Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection

Overcoming Back Pain


Freedom from Fibromyalgia

Stiff Person Syndrome

NAET and Applied Kinesiology

Iron House Gym

International Powerlifting Association

Iron House Powerlifting Classic - 2003

Contest Reports

Summary of Powerlifting Contests, USA Ranking, Records, and Times Bodyweight

Setting Up a Home Gym


Hormones and Diet

Bands and Chains

Training Routine Format - Part Three: Changes

Full Workout Logs

My Powerlifting Background. Copyright 2002-2003, 2005 by Gary F. Zeolla.

The above article was posted on this site October 26, 2005.
It was updated August 13, 2006.

Powerlifting Training
Powerlifting Training
: My Powerlifting Background

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