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IPA World Powerlifting Championships 
Contest Report

by Gary F. Zeolla

Dramatic Final Deadlift!


I competed in the International Powerlifting Association World Championships on Saturday July 10, 2004, in Shamokin Dam, PA. I competed in the 114-pound weight class in the men’s amateur, open and masters (40-44) divisions. My training leading up to this contest is detailed at Training Routine and Drop Reps Cycle (4/19/04 - 7/10/04).

The contest was held at Champs Fitness and Sports Center. The center includes an indoor soccer field. The meet was held on the field. It also has a very nicely equipped weight room, with two benches, a power rack, an area for deadlifts, and even a monolift. One lifter at the meet said that was where he trained. That would be so nice, competing at your own gym! As it was I had a four hour drive from the Pittsburgh area to Shamokin Dam in eastern PA.


For this contest, I left on Thursday so that I could weigh-in Friday morning. Initially I was a little worried about making weight as my weight had been running higher than it did before my contests last year. But I was down to 118.8 on Monday. I then changed the way I went about cutting weight and easily lost the remaining weight.

Basically, all I ate for the last four days was low-fat protein foods and lots of veggies. I also increased sodium and water for the first two days, and then eliminated sodium as much as possible the last two days while returning water intake to normal levels. I was going to cut back on water the last day but didn’t really need to. I ended up weighing in at 113.5, one pound under the limit. So that went well.

However, as always, I had trouble sleeping in the motel the two days before the contest. In fact, I changed rooms on Friday. The room I was in initially was close to a major highway, and I couldn’t sleep at all with all of the traffic noise. The new room was further back and quieter, so I did get some sleep the night before the contest. But I had planned on spending Friday just resting, and with having to pack, move to the new room, and unpack again, I didn’t get the rest I had hoped for.


At my last contest, I squatted 365, which was good for the IPA open and master’s records. However, that was on my opener, which I only got two white lights on. I then missed the next two attempts on depth. After that experience, I had been trying to sink my squats lower in training, and my training had gone well. But still, I was a worried about squats this time.

I opened with 370, enough to break my records. I sunk it as low as I figured I needed to, and then I sunk it a little bit lower just to be sure. I came up with it slowly but smoothly and got three whites! What a relief! Mark Chaillet (the president of the IPA) was one of the side judges. After my lift, I asked him if I had room to spare on my depth, and he said I could cut it a little bit higher.

I went up to 390 on my second attempt. The bar felt really heavy when I took it off the monolift. I sunk it as low as I did the first attempt but without the little bit “extra” and then came up very slowly with it. It was a hard lift, but it passed with three whites.

I then went up to 405 for my third attempt. I got really psyched up for it, and when I took the bar off of the monolift, it felt lighter than the 390 did. I knew then I would get it. I sunk it the same as my second attempt, and came up slowly but with strength to spare. Once again, three whites!

So after coming one white light from bombing out on squats at my last contest, I once again went 3/3 with 9 white lights like I did my first two contests last year. It felt really good!

One little problem though, I hurt my left thumb on my second attempt. I’m not sure how, but it bothered me after the lift and when I was wrapping for my third attempt. Then strangely, I didn’t notice it again the rest of the contest. But after I got back to my motel room, it started bothering me again when I was using it to work the buttons on the TV remote! And it has been bothering me some ever since, but a little less each day. So it seems to be healing.


As with squats, at my last contest I only got my opener on benches with 195. I missed 205 twice. At my contest prior to that I had benched 200, which was good for the IPA master’s record. This time, I once again opened with 195. And the weight just flew up and was good for three whites.

For my second attempt I went up to 210. I only needed 205 to break my IPA record. However, my best bench at 114s when I competed in college was 205. So I wanted 210 for a true PR. The lift felt very good throughout, and I got it for three whites.

I knew I would be good for 5 pounds more but that 10 more would be iffy. But it didn’t seed worth it to just go up 5 pounds, so I called for 220 for my third attempt. When I took the handoff, the weight felt really heavy. But I came down with it nicely and then got it moving back up rather smoothly as well. But it stalled about 3” from lockout. And try as I might, I just couldn’t get it moving again. But I wasn’t too disappointed. At least I got the 210 for the IPA and personal records.

Again, one little problem though. I strained so much trying to lockout my third attempt that my back really cramped up, in the area right above my belt. But it let up after a few minutes, so I was okay for deadlifts.


My deadlift training had been going great all year. So this was the lift I was really looking forward to. However, after benches, I was really getting exhausted. Not only was I operating on little sleep, but it was also really hot in the fitness center. And the heat was getting to me. But fortunately, they took a break after benches before starting deadlifts, so this gave me a chance to rest.

I lay down on the soccer field at one end. And as I lay there looking up at the ceiling, I counted 13 soccer balls stuck in the rafters! And mind you, this was a very high ceiling, at least 50’. They must have some strong kickers on their soccer teams!

In any case, I rested a little too long before starting my DL warm-ups, so I got a little bit rushed. And even with the rest, throughout my warm-ups, I felt terrible. With the heat getting to me, I almost threw up on my final warm-up.

At my last two contests, I got a “second wind” while I was warming up for DLs, and DLs ended up going great, 3/3 with 9 whites at both contests. I kept hoping that second wind would come this time, but it never did.

Moreover, when I put my suit on for my last warm-up attempt, it went on easily, too easily. It was obviously too loose. It had fit much tighter the last time I used it in training. A few days after the contest, I called the company to see if it would be okay for me to put the suit in the dryer after I washed it to try to shrink it some. And I was told that I was supposed to be putting it in the dryer. The same went for my squat suit and bench shirt.

I had always hung dried my suits and shirts out of fear they would shrink too much if I put them in the dryer. But I was told they would only shrink back to their new states. After drying them in the dryer, I tried the gear on, and it all definitely fit tighter than at the contest. In fact, I got to thinking that if my shirt had been that tight at the contest, maybe it would have given me the momentum to push the bar to lockout on my third attempt.

In any case, back to the contest. At my last contest I had pulled 380, which was good for the IPA open and master’s records. So I only needed 385 to break my records on my opener. But I had planned on opening with 390, and despite the fatigue, the heat, and the loose suit, I stubbornly kept to my original plan for my attempts. So opened with 390. The lift was a lot harder than I wanted for my opener, but I got it for three whites.

I had planned on going to 410 for my second attempt. This would equal my best DL from college at 114s. So again, despite the problems, I stuck with my original plan. I was so tired I had a hard time getting psyched up, and I ended up barely budging the weight. I got it up about 2”, and that was it.

As this point, I was getting rather upset. As I said, deadlifts had gone great all year, and there was no way I was going to be satisfied with only getting my opener and only breaking my IPA records by 10 pounds. As I sat there trying to get my head together, I finally felt that second wind come!

When my name was called, I got really psyched up and attacked the bar. I grabbed it, dropped down, and then pulled with all my might. The weights very slowly came up off of the floor. And then very slowly, the bar moved past where I had stalled on my second attempt. It might even have stopped about then, but I got it moving again, very slowly. The bar inched up in front of my shins. It might have again stopped, but I got it moving.

I got the bar to my knees, and very slowly pulled it past them. In my training leading up to this contest, I had not been using baby powder on my thighs. My thought was, when I used the baby powder at the contest the weight would seem to just fly up when I hit my thighs. But that was not the case. The bar might have even stalled right above my knees, but I got it moving again and without “hitching.” I then very slowly pulled it up my thighs, struggling for every inch. Finally, after what was the longest DL of my life, I locked it out!

The head judge gave me a very quick down signal, and I set the bar down. I then waited for what seemed like an eternity for the lights to come up, but finally they did-three whites!!!!

The crowd was cheering louder than I had ever heard a crowd cheer at a PL contest. I jumped in the air, yelled a couple of times, and then jumped and yelled some more. I then collapsed onto a bench by the wall and couldn’t breathe. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me. I know what that feels like as it happened to me when I was a kid. I fell off of a rope slide at summer camp. It was a horrid feeling then, and it was horrid now.

It took several minutes before I was able to breathe at all normally. And the next morning I was soooo sore! Every muscle in my body ached, especially my traps. But it was worth it!

Afterwards, it seemed that just about everyone in the place, both lifters and from the audience were coming up to me to congratulate me, shaking their heads and saying, “That final deadlift!”

It was actually a screw up on my part that set up that final deadlift in not dropping my attempts when I knew I was having problems. But I’ll remember that DL as long as I live. So it all worked out for the best! And it’s really nice being able to once again tell people I can squat and deadlift over 400 pounds.

Total and Goals Met

I had several goals for my total going into this contest. And my total of 1025 met them all. First, at my last contest I had totaled 940, which was good for the IPA open and master’s records. I, of course, wanted to break those records, and I ended up shattering them by 85 pounds.

Second, my best total in college at 114s was 953, so I also shattered that PR.

Third, the IPA master’s elite total is 975, so I totaled 50 pounds more than what I needed for elite status. This means that for my next contest I will need to enter the “pro” division.

Fourth, I wanted to total at least a grand, and I easily did that.

Fifth, “Powerlifting USA’s” Master’s Top 20 chart came out shortly before this contest. On that chart, I am listed second in the total category for 114s. But my total at this meet would easily move me into first. This means I am now the best lifter over 40 years old in my weight class in the USA.

Sixth, my goal has been to get listed in the top five in PL USA’s top 100 chart for 114s. My total from this contest would place me fourth on last year’s list. This means, I am now the fourth best lifter of any age in my weight class in the country. But unfortunately, this meet was too late for my lifts from it to be included in this year’s list as it is due to come out in a couple of months. But still, based on last year’s list, I’m solidly in the top five.

And finally, my first contest since I started competing again was last April 12th (2003). At it, I totaled 850 on a 9/9 day. So I’ve added 175 pounds to my total in 15 months. That’s pretty good progress if I do say so myself. So overall, I was very happy with my performance.

Awards and the Future

As with my three contest last year, I was the only one in my weight class. So by default, I took first place in the open and masters divisions for 114s. But it’s still nice to have two more certificates and medals to display.

My next contest will be IPA Nationals, November 12, 2004, also in Shamokin Dam, PA at the Fitness Center. And with it being November, I shouldn’t have the heat to deal with, so that will be good!

For pictures from this contest, see IPA World Powerlifting Championships - 2004 - Pictures.

See Training Routines and Drop Reps (with Back-Off Set - 7/16/04 - 11/12/04) for the training routine I started using after IPA Worlds.

IPA World Championships - 2004 - Contest Report. Copyright 2004 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
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