The European Championship and the last 6 months ..
Following on from last post, I weighed in at 83.6kg the night before I was due to travel down to Aldershot but I had been water loading so was confident I’d make weight in the morning. Skipped breakfast, loaded the car with food & drink ready to rehydrate and refuel then hit the road nice and early. It’s a long old drive from Pembrokeshire and weigh-in was 10am-11:30am and I wanted to get in as early as possible so I could eat up!
Typically, my car radiator blew on the way .. perfect .. limped the last 30 miles using all the water I had in the car and heaters on full blast to cool engine, but still ended up missing the morning weigh-in by 10 minutes! Just what I needed. Used the scales they had there to see where I was and was looking at around 82.3. Couldn’t take the risk of having even a quick dioralyte as they weren’t the official scales and I may have gone over. Gutted … Had to wait till the 3pm weigh-in instead, feeling totally dried out and knackered from the hot drive down in the sun and watching the rest of the team fuel up around me. That’ll test your resolve when you are starving and thirsty as hell and having to watch your mates drinking plenty and stuffing burgers etc down their face 😔
Weighed in at 81.2kg by 3pm and spent the rest of the day eating and drinking and trying to regain as much lost water as I could knowing that my performance in the morning was dependent on it. Got a reasonably decent night sleep as was staying with family and was back ready in the morning. Didn’t feel too bad at the time, but warm-ups were feeling heavy and I knew I would have to really push myself to hit my targets.
Squatting opened well for me, hit a comfortable 190kg followed with a 210kg which went up easy so then went for a comp PB of 227.5kg (500lbs) – Didn’t go so well, knee gave way a little at the bottom so the spotters had to step in. That failed lift left me with just a 210kg squat. The judging was quite harsh and several lifters bombed out on depth so by the time bench came around, I dropped my opener down to 140kg. I’m confident I can hit that on a bad day and got that on the board happily. 150kg didn’t want to go up on my 2nd lift and on third lift my shoulder gave way on one side and the bar hit the spotters hand so I was red lighted even though I managed to lock it out (looking back at the video I can see why as not only was the bar travelling unevenly, he looked like he helped me, but when I was on the bench I didn’t feel like it!). My bench is always the first to get hit when I drop weight, especially with limited time to rehydrate again so I knew it was going to be a struggle. Ah well, on to deadlifts, dropped my opener to 180kg as again, I’m confident with that weight, easy lift on 2nd with a 190kg but centre ref had a quick word about bar ‘dropping too quickly’ and then a reasonably easy 200kg at third attempt as by that time it was all I needed to win my category and no point in shooting for a crazy PR.
So, not an amazing total by far, but it was enough on the day to take a European title and after the day I’d had beforehand, I was over the moon to have made it through and not been ‘bombed out’ of the competition at the squats – Plus the trophies were awesome 😉
Vids: Squat 190kg, Squat 210kg, Bench 140kg, Bench 150kg (fail – red light), Deadlift 180kg, Deadlift 190kg, Deadlift 200kg
Following that, I took a little time off and just enjoyed being ‘off-season’ as it seems like it’s been a long time and I’ve been nursing a few injuries for too long. Typically over the next few months I came down with a few illnesses and worst still, my knee gave way on the stairs as I’ve been suffering with patellar tendonitis for a while and sprained the inflamed tendon – yowch! Couldn’t walk for almost 3 days and training was out of the question for a while. My shoulder has also played up ever since, I think I’m getting too old for this lark! Ha ha
Now the last two months I’ve been rebuilding lost strength and trying to rehab my injuries. I have got back to all previous lifts equipped now, but my raw game has taken a big hit not only from the injuries, but the fact I’ve been focusing all my training on equipped lifting and feel my technique has come apart a little when unequipped as it’s a completely different way of lifting.
So now we’re into December and for now I’m really pushing to get my raw lifts back to where I was before I started competing. I’ll try and get some equipped lifting in once a month with the Pembs Powerlifters as I still plan on competing equipped but otherwise all training will be raw.
Life back on track, knee/shoulder calming right down with the focus on rehab and raw lifting and I’ll be posting up on here regularly again – Also, good news, I’ve met a graphic designer who will be looking at my book ‘Hench – A Straightforward Guide to Size and Strength’ as it’s still in Microsoft Word format and then will get it published and hopefully will finally get it out there! For now, back to the Christmas shopping, the joys of parenthood and work, work, work 😉
Preparing for the European Championships
Where to start? Well, not long after last post I contracted a kidney stone & infection, needless to say, very painful and it knocked my training for 6. I pretty much couldn’t do anything for a month and had to pull out of the BPO British Championships in April as I wouldn’t be ready in time. These were qualifiers for the upcoming Europeans so needless to say I was a little gutted!
Thankfully, the president of the BPO has invited me to the Euro’s anyway as I have a ‘justifiable reason’ for not competing at the British, so wasn’t disappointed for too long J
Since then it has been a bit of a slog trying to get back up to previous strength levels. I’ve deliberately gained a little weight alongside training to help my lifts but unfortunately this mean I’m closer to 90kg than the 82.5kg I need to be at the meet and needing to cut 7+kg over the next 5 weeks.
Not an impossible task, but I will need to tighten up my diet and possibly water load again despite being advised against it by my GP. I know the risks and will put more into making sure I’m fully rehydrated for the comp – after this meet I won’t be competing till next year so will spend the rest of the year focusing on health and joint rehab/mobilisation, and possibly even move up a weight class next year to stop having to cut weight each time.
Training through April was just trying to get back to weights I’ve lifted this year and happily I’ve managed to do so, Deadlift back up to 190kg x3, Bench 150kg x2 and Squat 210kg x2. Equipment is a little tighter due to weight gain so pretty sure that’s helping, but still happy to hit my old numbers 😉
May has gone well, I’ve hit 160kg on Bench, 205kg Deadlift and 227.5kg for squat on max week. My goal is still to hit a 250kg Squat, double bodyweight Bench 165kg and another 5-10kg on Deadlift to take me up to my failed attempt at the worlds last year of 215kg. Got to have goals right?
So now it’s June, 1 week to go to the Euro’s, weighed in over the weekend at 87.6kg so I need to drop 5 kg, I’m eating as clean as possible and have easily dropped 3-4 kilos previously by water loading so feeling confident I’ll make weight … Watch this space J
February 2015 – 6th March 2015
Took a week off after the Welsh Championships and now started the next 8 weeks training leading to the BPO British. Still trying to train with The Pembrokeshire Powerlifters where I can as I get more from the sessions than when I’m on my own, but training almost always has to fit around my work & family commitments. For the next 8 weeks at least I’m loosely following Wendlers 5/3/1 for Powerlifting, with the last deload week leading to the British.
Got in a couple of sessions before starting the 8 week plan, Deadlifts with the Pembs boys with Chiropractors Nightmares, Bench session up to 120kg x5 and 140kg x4 (equipped) and Squats up to 200kg x3 (equipped), then backed off to 180 x6 (equipped, straps down). Then began with 3’s week + equipped singles.
Deadlift up to 170kg x3, then a single at 182.5kg – Was supposed to pull 197.5kg as well, but just wasn’t up to it and form was breaking down so left it and chased up with Good Mornings, Bent Over Rows and some abs
Bench up to 125kg x4 (raw), then equipped 140kg x4, and 152.5kg x3 (Was only supposed to be a single but was feeling strong so went for it!) – followed up with DB Bench, Press-ups, Chest Supported Rows and Rear Raises
Squats up to 170kg x3, then equipped 195kg and 215kg – Then Leg Press, Glute/Ham Raises and Captains Chair Knee Raises
Chiropractors Nightmares 180kg x4
Squat 200kg x3, Squat 180kg x6, Squat 215kg
Bench 140kg x4, Bench 152.5kg x3
My Experience at The World’s 2014
World Powerlifting Federation – World Championships 7th, 8th and 9th November 2014
Entrant: Steve Arnold in the Open 82.5kg Category for Team GB
We travelled down to Gatwick overnight Tuesday and flew out Wednesday. Got there in the early afternoon so went for a wander around the local town Voiron and just rested up ready for weigh-in in the morning. Wasn’t sure about weight so kept food to a minimum and drank very little to dehydrate slightly as I would have 24 hours to re-hydrate again anyway. Thurs morning picked up my GB T-Shirt and headed up to the venue and weighed in at 80.3kg 🙂 Great for my Wilks points!
A little more grand than last time! Had a quick nosy around and then as last meet, spent the rest of the day eating, drinking and generally re-hydrating and refueling for a long day. I knew it would take longer than the UK’s as there were 137 lifters entered and 3 flights on the first day (mine of course would be flight 3, but we went up first thing as one of the Pembrokeshire Powerlifters (Jacqueline) would be first flight and we go as a team from opening ceremony/warm-up to closing ceremony.
Got up Friday and had as much breakfast as possible and plenty to drink and headed off to the meet.
Arrived at the venue and headed to the platform to sort rack heights etc and then on to the warm-up room which was a little walk away to help the first flight before I started getting ready myself.
Warmed up with my squats up to a couple of singles at 160kg which was feeling easy, put on my squat suit and did an easy 180kg with loose knee wraps and opened with 190kg which felt easy! Jumped up to 210kg and again, went up a charm so coach put me down for a PB attempt at 225kg. Must be something in the water, happy with a PB on my squat and my closest rival only hit a questionable 210kg so I went 15kg into the lead.
Vids: Squat 190kg, Squat 210kg, Squat 225kg
On to Ze Bench Press… Started warming up and my shoulder was twinging a little so slapped some more ibuprofen gel (got through a lot over the weekend!), followed by Deep Heat and it felt a bit better as I did some mobility. Unfortunately there was a bit of a mix-up somewhere and we were told that there would only be two flights for the Bench so we needed to get moving and warm-up. Rushed my warm-up and failed a 140kg which smashed my confidence as I’ve hit 160kg on my own without a handout, but one of the lads came over and gave me some encouraging words and after a few minutes I pressed 140kg and decided to drop my opener from 150kg to 140kg just to be sure I didn’t bomb out! As we headed down to the platform I noticed my French
rival (the 210kg squatter) hadn’t started his warm-up and due to the fact he didn’t understand English, (or knew something I didn’t) wasn’t interested in coming down to the platform with the rest of us.
Should have followed him! After sitting in my shirt for 30 mins and going cold, we found out it was 3 flights (Of course, why the hell wouldn’t it be?) I went back and did another couple of warm-up sets up to 130kg and felt shoulder twinging again, but by now it was way too late. Thankfully hit my opener of 140kg, but failed to hit 150kg on my next two attempts. See the vid on my last attempt, I think the centre ref had fallen asleep, I didn’t hear a press command for what felt like forever, until my coach started yelling but I just couldn’t get it – You can see Paul (Coach), look at him as if to say WTF? Typically Frenchy had a massive Bench, virtually no pause and hit a 180kg which put him ahead by a clear 25kg! – Had I got my gym PR he still would be ahead, but by only 5kg, but hey, it’s what you hit on the platform that counts
Vids: Bench 150kg (fail)
We had now been at the venue for over 6 hours and I was absolutely starving! Smashed a pre-workout and some sugary sweets and warmed up for my deads. Not sure if it was in my head, but bar was feeling really heavy and I was going to drop my opener to 180kg, but coach thankfully was there and he just said – ‘what’s on that bar?’ pointing at one on the floor and I said ‘180kg’, ‘pick it up then’ he said and I did! So then we headed down and I pulled an easy 190kg, then a 200kg equaling my best at the UK’s. I then looked over at Paul & Az and they were already filling in my 3rd attempt so I knew to trust them and just got ready to lift. ‘Bar is loaded for Steven Arnold at 215kg’. I thought, F%@k this, I’m having this and went for a 15kg PR. Just couldn’t lock it out, so finished with a 565kg total which is 45kg up from my UK result – PR on my Squat, Competition PB on my Bench and equal PR on my Deadlift. Can’t really argue with that!
Deadlift Pics: Vids: Deadlift 215kg (fail)
Julien pulled a huge 235kg deadlift and took the gold with a 625kg total so even if I’d hit very lift I would have still come second with a 600kg total. Still, silver isn’t bad for a first World competition, especially competing naturally in an untested federation so I’m happy with the overall result. Now my goal is to get to a 650kg or higher total in time for next year and bring the gold home for GB!
Huge thanks to my Sponsors Chilton Motors, Pembroke Thanks again guys, you were a great help
Saturday 13th September – Friday 19th September 2014
– Been a bit of a crazy time since the meet, so website been a little ignored recently. Back up to speed again now so will be posting regularly again.
8 Weeks to the World’s! For my training leading up to it, I’ll be following Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 for Powerlifting with some customisation.
Week 1 – 3’s week with Heavy singles
Bench – Shirted up for the Bench after my 3’s and got up to 150kg. That’s up 15kg from the meet. Not bad for first time in a shirt! Did some assistance work, machine incline press, abs & rear delts
Deadlift – I don’t have a suit as yet so just did my 3’s and went for a couple of heavy singles and managed to pull 202.5kg (ugly as hell!) so again a PR of 2.5kg. Assistance was some Good Mornings, Ab wheel and chin-ups
Squat – Now the fun begins! After my 3’s and finally getting into the squat suit (ha ha), I went up to 200kg for 2, then my coach spurred me on to make 210kg. Best increase yet of 25kg on my meet PR .. could get used to this ‘geared’ lifting thing!
Bench/Board Press – On my own today so instead of board press I used Dead Bench to increase strength in the bottom of the lift up to 100kg x9 and then Rows, Dips, Curls and Rear Raises to finish
My First Meet Experience at the BPO UK Open Championships 2014
My first meet!
What a day! To carry on from last post I got up on the Friday morning and weighed in at 83.1kg only 0.6kg over what I need to be on Saturday. No water at all allowed today, only enough to wet my lips when need be! I ate very little over the day and kept it to protein only and BCAA’s and by the evening I was weighing in at 82kg so just where I needed to be. It wasn’t too bad, I was a little irritable and felt really tired by the evening so just tried to relax and not think about how thirsty I was!
Saturday morning stepped on scales to find I had dropped to 81.1kg so treated myself to some scrambled eggs and a coffee which took me back up to just under 82kg with 3 hours till weigh-in. Travelled up to Swansea then for weighing and recorded at 81.5kg so nice and happy and ready to feed up and hydrate.
Immediately after weigh-in I took a sachet of Dioralyte and filled a shaker with electrolyte drink which I kept drinking throughout the day (managed to get around 4 litres in total) and about 2 litres of water. Then hit Greggs for a breakfast baguette 😉
Spent the rest of the day just eating and drinking and preparing myself mentally for Saturdays meet, then one more Dioralyte in the evening.
Got up Sunday and had a cooked breakfast and another litre of electrolytes and relaxed for a bit before heading off to the meet.
Arrived at the hall met up with my coach and the other lifters and headed to the warm-up room pretty much straight away as at 82.5kg I would be in the first flight. Warmed up with my squats up to a couple of singles 160kg which was feeling nice and smooth and opened with 175kg which felt heavy but manageable and submitted my next attempt at 185kg, hit that (just!) with a close call from the judges as my knee just started to drift in a little and the spotters moved in but I got it up anyway and got 3 white lights so happy with that! Went for broke on my 3rd attempt with 192.5kg but something didn’t feel right on the way down, not sure if it was in my head as I had different knee wraps for this attempt as I had been sharing them with a teammate, or just wasn’t ready for it, and failed the lift. Never mind, happy with 185kg so next the bench press ..
There was a half hour break so had a quick protein shake and a handful of jelly sweets to keep sugar levels up and started to warm up for bench. Was feeling really good about this, bar was moving smoothly and shoulder (for once) was behaving and I had no pain at all. I was pretty much learning to lift on command in the warm-up room, I’ve done pause bench in training, but actually waiting for someone to call ‘press’ when in the bottom position, and ‘rack’ before racking it up, was totally different, however I was determined not to get red lighted for missing commands as a few other lifters ahead of me had been doing. Opened with 130kg, and had no problems making the lift so went up to 135kg for 2nd attempt. Bit of a grinder but again, went up and more importantly, no red lights! I was happy with 135kg as a total so just to push myself tried a 140kg but failed to get it. Another half hour and on to deadlifts.
Surprisingly, warming up for deadlifts I felt really strong and confident. I have always considered deadlifts to be my weakest lift but today they were feeling good and I was hoping to get a PR. Opened with a 180kg, easy lockout so went up to 190kg. A little tougher and only 5kg away from my previous 1RM, but again locked out no problem so decided to go for it and attempt 200kg a new PR. My coach then advised me to hitch up my singlet legs and talc my thighs as he could see it was slowing the bar down on lockout, did it and then got my 200kg to bring my total to 520kg.
Happy to have made 7 of 9 lifts and achieving the lifts I wanted I sat down to watch the rest of the competition and award ceremony. I hadn’t been looking at the board so had no idea where I had placed, but I had come to test myself and was quite happy to have made it through and got a good total so when I was called forward as the winner in my category I was over the moon!
To top it off I received an invite the next morning to compete at the WPF World Championships in France in November to represent Great Britain so I think it’s safe to say a successful first meet!
8 weeks now to prep for the World’s! Yikes!!
On a side note, the BPO doesn’t have a RAW (unequipped) category for lifters so even though I got through the UK’s raw, I will be suiting up for the world’s otherwise I’ll stand little chance of keeping up!
Thursday 4th September 2014 – Meet Preparation
3 days to go! Dropping the water intake as of yesterday (only 1 gallon), today only half a gallon allowed – already struggling, feel thirsty as hell!
Yesterday I weighed at 84.2kg, weighed in this morning at 83.5kg so on track to make weight at the moment. Most important thing now is to ensure I have everything I need to rehydrate after weigh-in (24 hours). Also need to decide my opening lifts, at this stage I am looking at my most recent max sessions and using that as I will be confident I can lift it so that will mean a 172.5kg squat, 135kg bench and 180kg deadlift. I’ll see how these feel and increase from there.
Also I will spending the next couple of days foam rolling and performing mobility work, and just generally trying to relax and recouperate and be ready mentally for a great day! 😉
Powerlifting.. It’s time to compete!
I’ve been toying with the idea of competing for a while but after getting ill in February it put a stop to any pipe dreams and up till now I’ve just been working back up to previous strength levels. However …
Had a great training session Saturday with the current World Champion and holder of several records Paul Murphy and the tank Aaron Hosking (who hit a massive 370kg squat – see vid). I squat up to 180kg with belt only, and then hit 190kg x2 and 200kg x1 with knee wraps – Paul was very encouraging and is convinced I have ‘a lot more in the tank’ and has offered to help coach me and to compete in September! What a result! I have decided to take him up on this and am now planning on entering that meet coming in just a few months.
A bit sore over Sunday and Monday so just enjoyed some time with the family over the bank holiday. This week I’ll be starting the shift in training over specifically to powerlifting, however my interests are still in strength and size so will continue to post as regularly as I can and get some more articles out there – click here to read previous articles.