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RPS Powerpalooza – 2021
By Gary F. Zeolla
8/8 (a passed attempt, on Benches)
One New Personal Record (50s-60s PR) (Squats)
One Tied Personal Record (50s-60s PR) (Deadlifts)
Four RPS Raw Masters (60-64) Records
Three RPS Raw Open (all ages) Records (Squats, Deadlifts, Total)
One All-time Raw Masters (60+) American Record (Squats)
One All-time Raw Masters (60+) World Record (Squats)
First Place, 114-pound weight class
I competed in the Powerpalooza #powerlifting contest for the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS) in York, PA, on Saturday, March 27, 2021. It was held in the ballroom at Wyndham Garden Hotel. I competed in the Pro division, 114-pound weight class, men’s masters (60-64 age) and open (all ages) categories, Modern Raw (raw with wraps) division.
I weighed 120.8 pounds on Friday (3/19). I needed to weigh 114.5 at 9:00 am Friday (9/26) to make weight for the 114-pound (52 kg) weight class. That meant I had just 6.3 pounds to lose in 7 days. I say “just” as this was the least amount I needed to lose for a contest in quite some time. And sure enough, I made weight with no problems. In fact, I weighed in at 113.4, the lightest I ever weighed in for a contest.
This contest was held on my 60th birthday. That meant I had to go up from the 55-59 to 60-64 age division for the RPS and from the 50-59 to 60+ division for the all-time American and World masters, raw records. There were no records in the RPS 60-64 age division, so all of my attempts would be for RPS master records.
In the open division, I currently held all four records. However, those records were set using sleeves on Squats, but I was planning on using wraps for this contest. Thus, I was hoping to break all of my previous records. For the all-time records, the only one I had a shot at was the Squat record.
Breaking these records were my main goals for this contest.
Gear: Crain: power belt, Genesis wrist wraps, 3.0-meter Genesis knee wraps; APT: heavy knee sleeves.
Warm-ups: --/15, 65/9, 135/7, 185/5, 225/3, Gear (sleeves): 265/1
*Warm-ups: --/15, 65/9, 135/7, 185/5, 225/3, Gear (wraps): 285/1
Sleeves: 285, 305, 315
*Wraps: 305, 326, 335
Actual: 305, 326, 335
I planned on using wraps for this contest, but I was prepared to use sleeves, just in case I had a health setback and I felt too terrible to use wraps. But I felt okay, so I used the wraps for my final warmup set and all three contest attempts.
I wanted to use wraps for my opener, as doing so would enable me to break my previous RPS record on that attempt. If I used sleeves, it would take my second attempt. And I would not even be able to attempt the all-time world record.
However, I had problems on the warmup and opener. I stumbled as I took one small step backwards. But both times, I caught myself without any help from the spotters. Therefore, my opener with 305 still passed with three white lights, and that broke the RPS open record.
I did not need to walk out, as there was a monolift. But I thought it best to do what I do in training. But after those stumbles, for my final two attempts, I did not walk it out. I was a bit leery about that, as I have lost my balance when doing so before. But I remembered to set up a bit differently, a bit more forward than usual. And that worked.
In any case, since my second attempt was for an all-time world, I could go just one pound over it, so I did that. It was currently 325, so I went for 326 to be sure I got it. To do so, I needed to jump a bit more than usual between attempts, 21 pounds rather than my usual 15 pounds. But this was my main goal for the day, so I figured that would give me two shots if need be. But I didn’t need the second try, as I got it on my first try, and for three white lights.
It was a hard lift, but I figured I still had more in me, so I went up to 335. This was an important lift, as I had missed it twice before. But I got it this time! It was a full max, meaning I could not have done a pound more. But I was glad to finally get it.
With weighing in at 113.4, 335 was just shy of triple bodyweight by 5.1 pounds. But hitting full triple bodyweight could be a goal for the future. But that will depend on if I stay at 114s and am able to make progress, now that I am in my 60s.
On that point, when I started competing again in my mid-50s after a six-year layoff, I came up with the idea of “50s PRs.” The idea was, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get back to what I did in my early to mid-40s, so I ignored what I did then, and I started over with 50s PR. But now that I am in my 60s, I don’t know if I should ignore what I did in my 50s or not. But I feel like I can still make progress, though just to maintain at this point would be an accomplishment in itself.
Gear: Crain: power belt, APT: Black Mamba wrist wraps.
Warm-ups: 10s/15, 50/9, 65/7, 80/5, 95/4, 110/3, Gear: 125/1
Original: 145, 155, 165
Planned: 135, 145, 155
Actual: 135, 145, passed
Three weeks prior to this contest, I injured my left arm in training. I was attempting a 1RM Cambered Bar Chain Bench, but I just could not lock it out. Consequently, I had to lower the bar down and set it on the safety bars in my power rack. It was not until I slid out from under the bar that I noticed my left arm was hurting. I didn’t think much of it at that time, but with each workout afterwards, it got worse, and I had to keep lowering what I was benching.
The “Original” line above is what I was on track for before this injury. But even that was down a bit, as I had benched 170 for my RPS record two years ago. At best, without the injury, I might have tried 172.5 on a fourth attempt. Note: When attempting a federation record, the least you can break it is by 2.5 pounds. It is only for an All-time record that you can go just one pound over.
In any case, with this injury, I knew I would not get anywhere near that. But I did the math, and to break my total record, I needed to get at least 135 pounds on Benches, so I went with that for my opener.
For my warmups, I had figured out in training that I needed to do more sets than usual, so as to jump very little between sets. I also found it helped to first warm up first with a pair of ten-pound plates. But even at that, all of the sets hurt a bit. But I was able to get through them without too much ado.
Therefore, I stuck with the 135 for my opener, and I got it. My arm only hurt a bit, and it was quite easy. I then went up to 145, what would have been my original opener. I got it, but barely. My arm really started to hurt near the lockout, when I had to work harder than I thought I would. I guess three weeks without hard training was just too much.
But still, I got the lift. But I thought it best to just call it quits right there, so I passed my third attempt. Very disappointing. But I am very thankful the arm did not bother me on Squats and Deadlifts, not in training nor at the contest. That meant I was able to train and compete full bore on those more important lifts. I truly thank the LORD for that.
Gear: Crain power belt; Uxcell knee sleeves; Sheik wrist wraps.
Warm-ups: --/15, 45/9, 135/7, 195/5, 245/4, 295/3, Gear: 340/1
Planned: 365, 385, 405
Actual: 365, 385, 405
My RPS record was 400, though I had pulled 405 at my last contest (APF). Also, with only benching 145, I needed that 405 to break my total record. I went in determined to stick with my planned attempts for those reasons.
My warmups and opener felt good and quite easy. But my second attempt was very hard. If it were not for the records, I might have dropped my planned third attempt to 400. A friend saw my lift with 385 and motioned to me with four fingers, indicating I should try 400. When I told him I was going with 405 to break my record, he squished his face, like he thought that might be too much. But I ignored him and went for the 405. I could have gone 402.5 with it being a RPS record. But I just had it in my mind I was doing 405.
I got really psyched up. As I first pulled, I didn’t think the bar was going to budge, but then it slowly came off of the floor. At that point, I knew I had it. I just had to not give up. It was super hard the whole way, and like my Squat, I could not have done a pound more, but I got it!
But then, just like at my last RPS contest, the head judge then made me hold it for like five seconds! I had noticed for my first and second attempts, I only had to hold it for a second or two, which is what it should be. But no matter, as I held it with no problems. All that grip work I have been doing ever since losing my grip on my final deadlift two years ago has really paid off.
Total and Attempts Ratio
I totaled 885. But I lost 20 pounds on my Bench due to the injury. That kept me from breaking my 50s PR of 895 and from breaking the 900 milestone. But again, I am just thankful I could Squat and Deadlift without problems.
With passing my third Bench attempt but going 3/3 on Squats and Deadlifts, I guess I will say my ratio was 8/8. But then maybe a passed attempt should be considered a missed attempt, making it 8/9. But either way, I have yet to miss more than one attempt at a contest since I started to compete again in 2015.
On a couple occasions prior to this contest, I got a cramp in my right leg, just above the knee, towards the inner thigh. The second time, it really hurt. I called my doctor, and all he said was to consume more potassium, specifically, a banana a day. But with cutting weight, for which I follow a strict low carb diet, I could not eat any bananas, though I tried to eat as many veggies as possible, which are also high in potassium.
But as soon as I stepped off of the scale after weigh-ins, I chugged a quart of homemade veggie juice, with maltodextrin and protein powder added. Then after I got back to my hotel room, I planned on eating throughout the day, including cereal with bananas. Then I planned on eating oatmeal for breakfast the day of the contest, with a banana. But I forgot to take the bananas with me!
I did take a carton of tomato soup, which is also high in potassium. But apparently, that was not enough. After my first Bench attempt, not just my right leg, but my left leg cramped up as well, in the exact same spot as on the right leg!
I had taken a quart of store-bought carrot-orange juice with me to the contest, but I hadn’t drunk much of it, as I was also drinking iced tea, which I needed for the caffeine after not sleeping well at the hotel (more on that in a moment). But here, I gulped some of the carrot-orange juice, which again, is high in potassium. And the cramps alleviated.
But then after my second attempt, I cramped up again. I drank some more carrot-orange juice, and the camps subsided. But then after I changed my gear around and ate a snack, I had time left before I needed to start warming up for Deadlifts. That of course was due to having passed my third Bench attempt.
In any case, I laid down on the floor for 15 minutes. When I went to get up, both legs cramped up, and I was barely able to get off of the floor! Both really hurt.
More carrot-orange juice, and the cramps calmed down. But then after my Deadlift opener, I cramped up again. More carrot-orange juice, and they calmed down. I was fine after my second attempt, but then after my third attempt, my right leg really cramped up, and I had to hop off of the platform on my left leg.
Afterwards, I had several people ask me if my knee was okay. I guess it looked like I was holding my knee. But I told them it wasn’t my knee, just a cramp.
Next time, I will put a banana into my post-weigh-in drink and be sure to take a few more bananas with me! Hopefully, that will take care of it.
As often happens, after Squats, I began to have people ask me how old I was. When I told them, “Today is my 60th birthday,” they of course said, “Happy Birthday.” Then word must have gotten around, as I had many people saying “Happy Birthday” to me. It was probably the most “Happy Birthdays” I had ever gotten, at least in real life.
The Venue and My Hotel
As indicated, the venue was the Wyndham Garden Hotel. It was a gorgeous hotel. But for that reason, too rich for me. Therefore, I stayed at a dive of a hotel, a Red Roof Inn a few miles away. It cost me less than half of what the Wyndham would have cost, but it was frustrating seeing that gorgeous hotel then having to put up the noise and other problems at my hotel.
The noise is part of the reason I did not sleep well the two nights before the contest at the hotel. No blanket on the bed was another. Yes, no blanket! Just a sheet and a very thin spread that was no thicker than a sheet. I am used to having a stack of blankets on me at night. But, as they say, you get what you pay for. Next time, I will remember to take a blanket with me.
As for the Coronavirus, little attention was paid to it at my hotel or at the contest. But you did have to wear a mask to enter the Wyndham. But then at entrance to the ballroom was a sign reading, “Please wear a mask as much as possible.” That was “never” for 90% of the people there, and there were a lot of people.
Each session of the contest was limited to 30 lifters. That is why there were three sessions: the Saturday AM session I was in, a Saturday PM session, then a Sunday AM session. But in addition to the lifters, there were helpers with each lifter, all of the meet personal, and probably a couple of hundred people in the audience. That latter point surprised me, as I thought the audience would be limited. Altogether, there were probably at least 300 people in the ballroom.
My session started at 9:00 am, though we had to be there by 8:00 for the rules meeting and of course to warmup. The PM session was tentatively scheduled for 2:30 pm, but with the rules meeting an hour before. That rules meeting was held in a different room. But once it ended, those lifters and their helpers and audience began to file in, while my session was just finishing up.
As a result, for a while there, the place was really getting packed, with hundreds of people in the ballroom, with again, little mask wearing and no social distancing. But here I am four days out, and I am just fine.
More importantly, by the time I got back from this contest, it would be two weeks since my 85-year-old dad had gotten his second dose of the Pfizer vaccine. That was great timing, as it meant he was now fully protected.
I mention that, as ever since the start of this pandemic, my main concern has been about him. I should do just fine if I were to get infected, but at his age, he could have serious problems. That is why at my last contest, I was cautious to wear a mask and socially distance as much as possible, lest I got infected and in turn infected him. But now that he is fully protected, I didn’t bother at all with either.
After the Contest
On my way to the contest, I had seen a Burger King on the other side of the road. I figured that would be perfect. On my way home, I would stop by and get a large milkshake. I don’t normally eat fast food, and I don’t care much for anything else at a fast-food joint, but a milkshake tastes great after a contest, when I am all hot and thirsty.
However, my stupid GPS (MapQuest) took me back to my hotel a different way, so I didn’t pass that Burger King nor any other fast-food restaurant. Bummer. But I had taken some “cheat foods” with me, so I ate them as I relaxed afterwards. But all I could do was to listen to podcasts on my phone, as the TV wasn’t working. Again, crappy hotel, so I got a bit bored.
Future Plans and Conclusion
I thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me the strength to make it through this contest and for it going so well, at least on Squats and Deadlifts. And again, I thank God my arm injury did not bother those lifts. But now I will need to rehab my arm and try to get my Bench back up.
That might take a while. But still, I hope to stick with my original plan of entering a second contest this year, sometime in the fall. The September contest I entered last year might be too early due to the arm, but I am hoping for a contest in October or November. Nothing is on the schedules just yet, but I am sure something will be added before then, once the Coronavirus stuff is worked out.
Finally, I entered ten contests in the '00s, between 2003-09. I have now entered ten contests since I started to compete again in 2015. That is ten contests in six years in both time spans. But it would have been eleven this time if it were not for a contest last year being canceled due to the Coronavirus. You can easily see this pattern in my Contests Summary.
Below are pictures of me and my awesome-looking trophy and wearing my favorite Pirates shirt and hat and Ichthus (fish/ cross) necklace (click any picture for a larger image).
The full meet results for this contest are posted on the RPS’s website at: 2021 RPS Powerpalooza.
The above contest report was posted on this site March 31, 2021.
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