Well, today was the bench press competition at my gym and it did not go well for yours truly.
I had my attempts planned at 300, 315, and 330. I did not train the bench press with a pause, but I'm always very deliberate in training and so did not foresee any problems. I thought I would have at least gotten the 315. I worked up to 325 about fifteen days out, and deloaded this week.
I do not know if I push myself too hard in training, but I swear I do not come out of deloads stronger. If anyone has advice about this, please let me know.
Anyways I weighed in this morning at 11am. There was a big group of guys there, pretty much all the gym regulars. I didn't care about falling in a certain weight class, and I had my weight down to about 185 at the start of the week, and held it until Friday. I then ate like a pig for the last two days and ended up weighing in at 188 wearing sweatpants
They announced they would begin at noon so I walked on the treadmill for a bit, foam rolled my back, warmed up my joints and tried to get some work in on the bench press as the time approached. It went like this:
295 felt really good and I was feeling confident at that point. I decided, based on that warmup, that I would just start off with 305 instead of 300.
The meet began and the place was a ****ing zoo. It was the kind of atmosphere you might expect at a dogfight or cockfight, because everyone was crowded around the bench yelling. A lifter would come up to the bench, and they were forced to take all three attempts consecutively! Seriously, some guys probably had about one minute in between attempts. Nobody could hear anything and the bar was misloaded a few times. A few little guys almost got seriously hurt. On the other end of the spectrum, I even saw a couple guys take about four or five lifts. I didn't really understand why.
About an hour after my last warmup attempt, it was finally my turn. I was nervous as hell. I chalked my hands and squeezed them together, and already the sweat had smeared much of it off. I sat down on the bench press and tried to collect my thoughts, tried to ignore the noise. I turned off my ipod so I could communicate with the judges.
When I bench press, I arch my back, pinch my traps together, get my feet set, etc etc. I leaned back with the bar loaded at 305 and my right leg started shaking so badly that I couldn't settle it down. Then, my back started to cramp up as I resisted the jitters. One judge (the guy who works the front counter) told me there was no lift off. This ****ed my game up too. I usually get a lift off so I can stay tight. I've had some shoulder problems in the past and staying tight is the only way to not aggravate it. I took it off, didn't keep tight enough, and missed it.
I then said, "What the ****? Why no lift off?" The other judges said it was ok, it was just that other guys didn't want it, so some competitors didn't think it was fair." I said, "Well, **** them if they don't want it. If it's our choice, then I choose to have one." They said, "Fine, now lift." That took about a minute and I rushed the next lift, and missed it again. I noticed then that my elbows were flaring out as I lowered the weight. I'm usually careful to tuck them in.
My buddy was standing there and said, "What is your problem? You can handle this weight no problem. I've seen you." I was already disappointed and mad, and then I knew that I had to get this one. I took my lift off, lowered it, paused it and drove it back up. 305, what a day.
I expected this competition to be chaotic. I also knew that I would have really bad nerves, and that was one reason why I entered: I needed to alleviate them somewhat prior to the real meet in June. I also am not sure if I should pause all my bench press training from here on out. That, or I could work up to my max lifts on a given day, then take an attempt with the same weight for a pause. I think the pause makes it a little harder, but I basically totally choked today.
What's good, however, is that I now have a little more of a purpose for my meet in June. I want to redeem myself of today's performance and will use this failure as motivation to reach my goals in a couple months.