2013 USAPL/IPF Raw Challenge @ The Arnold Report

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    Calm before the storm.
    Calm before the storm!

    Hey everyone!! Thanks for all the support and for checking up on me. It was a fun day at the Arnold and although things didn’t go as well as planned I still had a blast and learned a lot. Additionally, I saw some super impressive lifters.

    Jennifer Thompson (NC) benches 300 raw at 132lb bodyweight!
    Jennifer Thompson (NC) benches 300 raw at 132lb bodyweight!

    Here’s how the day went:
    Wake Up Call: 530am. Headed to the convention center for the 6 am weigh in. Probably got about 4hours of decent sleep last night, but that was fine. I had to make sure all my gear was legal, i.e. shirt, singlet, shoes, etc. (not kidding). They told me my Brute Strength t-shirt was illegal, but that I could purchase a t-shirt to comply with the rules at their vendor conveniently located in the other room. Strike 1 IPF.

    Anyway, I got to weigh in around 645 and was 82.9 kg (182.3 lbs). Slammed my super top secrete shake, 32oz gatorade, BCAAs+ water and was ready to roll.

    Squats: Warm ups felt fine, hit my last warm up @365 but then they were screwing around around taking so much time to start my flight, so I hit 315 again to stay warm. Here’s how my attempts went:

    190kg: Easy. Got 1 red light because apparently I fidgeted after given the squat command. Idk, they make me feel like I’m hyper extending my knees to get the squat command, so then I intuitively unlock them but this is frowned upon. The judges were super strict, per usual, at this meet and were red lighting people on depth (some people even bombed out of the meet due to this), but luckily in training I always squat deep. This rep was easy and I felt way better mentally after I hit it. Got it and called for 205kg.

    On the way up with 425.
    On the way up with 425.

    205kg (452): Didn’t feel particularly hard or grindy. Just hit depth stood up, and got 3 whites.


    452, buried alive!
    452, buried alive! Note the knee position. My toes need to be angled out more though.

    212.5kg: Either I didn’t have enough chalk on my back or I set up incorrectly because the bar rolled up my back out of the hole. Missed it ~1/3-1/2 way up. I didn’t fight it for too long because I didn’t wanna waste all my energy. I’m confident 210 would have gone, but 212.5 just wasn’t there today. I hit heavier than both (470) in training, but this was also after a full night’s sleep and without any added pressure from being at the Arnold. At this point, I wasn’t bummed at all, but I wish I could have gotten set up better so I could give it a real go without the bar rolling up my back.


    Break #1: Took down some sliced turkey, rice cakes, and a bunch of water. Feeling good.

    In the warm up room with JD.
    In the warm up room with JD.

    Bench: My last warm up, 300, felt pretty slow so I backed down my opener from 145 to 142.5 just to make sure I got into the meet. This was a smart move.

    Attempt 1: 142.5- this was way slower than it should have been, as the bar went forward (towards my feet) off my chest. The pauses weren’t exceptionally long at all but I just executed this rep wrong. I was pretty pissed at myself since I hit 340 in training and even that didn’t feel this hard. I called for 147.5 for my 2nd.


    (If you listen closely you can here the bar actually come to rest on the pins. The safeties were too high turning this into a pin press, essentially).


    Attempt 2: I took down an entire gallon (literally) between attempt 1 and attempt 2. This extra hydration and me realizing I pushed the bar forward made this attempt a whole lot smoother. This felt super easy and was a 2.5kg meet PR. I also realized at this attempt that I never was setting my back and chest and my setup was essentially shit for all of these attempts since I failed to correct for them. Also, at the bottom of the rep before the pause, the bar kept hitting the safety pins and this was annoying as hell and distracting. I had them move the safety pins down 2 notches to try and get them out of the way.

    Attempt 3 152.5: Drank a bunch more water and felt pretty confident going into this attempt. Unfortunately, I made the same mistake and didn’t set my shoulders on the bench after unracking it (the lift off sucked but that’s not an excuse). I also pushed the bar forward on this attempt too, which is why I missed it. I really though this was gonna be a smoke show but I cannot make technical errors at circa maximal attempts at huge meets and expect to get away with it. Ughhh.

    Good handoff? Nope.
    Good handoff? Nope.

    Break 2: More turkey, more rice cakes, and water. Pull time. At this point I was pretty sure my elite total was out the window, but I still wanted to hit a 585-600lb pull, which would have been 3 PRs and big meet total PR. I was OKAY with this, as I wasn’t executing perfect technique at all, which is unacceptable.

    Deadlifts: All warm ups were stupid easy. Very confident going into the pulls.

    535 easy.
    535 easy.


    Attempt 1: 242.5 (535): Total smoke show. Felt like a speed pull, honestly. Something weird happened before this attempt though backstage. I started shivering and shaking violently, like I was soooo cold. I put on my heat gear (thermal shirt , jacket, and stocking cap) and tried to stay warm. When I was pulling this deadlift I also got this strange sensation that my arms were going to rip off, like both biceps were cramping or tearing or something. Totally weird.

    Attempt 2: 265 (585 or something): The set up was okay, although my back was not as tight as it should have been, but it came off the floor fast and I thought it was game over until it cleared the knees. The bar moved away ever so slightly and the bar speed cratered. I kept pulling and from what the video shows, I shrugged it back against my legs. I did not feel myself rebend my knees, and the video shows this (will post it when my friends send me both angles) but I know the pull certainly didn’t feel normal. I’ve never hitched in my life so the weird feeling of the top of the pull makes me believe the call was accurate and hitchy, although all the dudes backstage told me it was a good pull. Who knows though. This was an expensive rep, that’s for sure. I called for the same attempt for my 3rd but was still shaking and shivering back stage even in full thermal gear. It was the strangest damn thing.

    Swinging for the fences.
    Swinging for the fences.


    Locked out.
    Locked out.


    My best blue steel.
    My best blue steel.

    3rd Attempt: No gas, no chance. There could have been 280kg on the bar and it would have moved the exact same distance, zero inches.

    Total: 1313 (or 1312), 9th overall for <93kg men.

    Feelings: I’m kinda bummed about the deadlift since I really felt good about my training cycle coming into the meet. In retrospect, I should have called for 260-262.5 or not mess up the pull by being technically proficient in the lifts and just smoked it. If I would have hit 262.5 I think I would have ended up with a better placing in the overall standings. On the other hand, I didn’t come to the Arnold to necessarily put up a big total, but rather I just wanted to go for PRs. I set two meet PRs and missed a 3rd (deadlift).

    So I weighed in at 182.3 and before anyone says anything, I was 198 after stepping off the platform for my 3rd deadlift attempt. I have no doubt in my mind as to why my performance wasn’t what I wanted, I plain screwed up on every max effort attempt. No excuses, I just either set up wrong or did the movement incorrectly on my 3rd Squat and Bench (also my 1st one here) and 2nd pull. I cannot expect to get away with compromised technique and set crazy PRs on the biggest stage in powerlifting. I thought the judging was fair and I felt fine all day except for the shivering/shaking thing before deadlifts.

    I can’t tell you how overwhelmed I am at the support of the Internet community and my friends for my meet Friday on here, Facebook, and Twitter. It was a really cool meet that was run extraordinarily well, yet I can’t help but be disappointed in the overall outcome due to technical miscues. If I would have missed weights because they’re just too heavy that’d be one thing, but to miss attempts because I did them wrong bums me out.

    Going forward, I’m definitely moving up a weight class, adjusting my peaking schedule, and will probably pick a meet to do that’s more low key. I’ve only done one small meet (my first one ever a little less than a year ago) and then the other meets were Raw Nationals, USAPL NE Regionals (huge meet), and the Arnold. I need to work my technique more and fine tune it so I can display my strength better. I have no doubt that the weights I missed today would have fallen on a different day or if I had better technique, but it wasn’t in the cards. I still had a blast competing at the Arnold, although I must say the place is packed full of weirdos. I just changed my flight back to VA to tomorrow instead of Sunday because all the strange folks really put me off to the whole thing. I’ve never seen more steroids, fake tans, makeup (on both genders), and peacocking going on in one place. It was overly stimulating for sure!

    Again, thanks for all your support everyone. I’m not down on myself at all. I know I could have easily deadlifted 260 no problem and put up a much bigger total, but that wasn’t the goal for this meet as mentioned before.


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    Jordan Feigenbaum
    Jordan Feigenbaum
    Jordan Feigenbaum, owner of Barbell Medicine, has an academic background including a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Master of Science in Anatomy and Physiology, and Doctor of Medicine. Jordan also holds accreditations from many professional training organizations including the American College of Sports Medicine, National Strength and Conditioning Association, USA Weightlifting, CrossFit, and is a former Starting Strength coach and staff member. He’s been coaching folks from all over the world  for over a decade through Barbell Medicine. As a competitive powerlifter, Jordan has competition best lifts of a 640lb squat, 430lb bench press, 275lb overhead press, and 725lb deadlift as a 198lb raw lifter.
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