I Bombed Out: My First Powerlifting Meet

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Well, if you didn’t get it from the title, my first powerlifting meet did not go as well as planned.

Bombed out means that you missed all 3 of your attempts and therefore, you will not receive a score so my score at the end was a zero.

So what happened.

I had immersed myself in all things Powerlifting since September. The equipment, workouts, commands, etc.

But during all of this, I was also struggling a lot.

I was struggling both with injury to my back where sometimes I put the bar on it and I would get a sharp pain from hitting a nerve and other days my back would fall asleep. About the weirdness feeling ever. I went to the doctors. This wasn’t going to stop me.

What was going to stop me more than everything else was myself.

As the squat weight got heavier in practice, I needed my husband to spot me. When the weight got to about 200lbs, I became scared. This was the weight I had let roll off my neck a year ago. It had beat me. It could beat me again and so I had my husband handy.

Nevertheless, I would pick it up and feel frozen. I’d start to go down then stop and rack it. I was terrified of going down. Eventually, I would have a few good days and become more comfortable…yet on most days, I dreaded squats.

I would ask my husband to help me after working for 12hrs, I’d set up the video camera to check my depth. I would then see me missing it even though I “thought” I got it. I would get frustrated. I would keep trying to do the weight. Fail at the weight. Be too weak from trying to go back down. The weight wasn’t heavy. I probably could have done more weight.  It was just me. This cycle would continue most days and on the worse, I wouldn’t even be able to attempt a squat. I felt paralyzed. I would cry out of frustration. He would try to comfort me and I just couldn’t accept it.

I’m not even completely sure why I was this way. It started out of fear. Then it was because of the intense pain I would get in my back. Then, it became entirely mental. If I mentally was checked out or emotional, I couldn’t do it. And knowing that I was the problem, hindered me even more. I think this is deeply rooted in the fact that I was the problem during my running career. My eating problems caused my injuries to heal slowly and I refused to stop. But that’s a different story I guess. During this time period, I was struggling mentally with a lot of family and life issues that seemed to always enter my mind. These problems overwhelmed all areas of my life and I even sought help.

All that being said, my deadlifts were increasingly rapidly. I focused on bench and just really suck at it. My PR was 115 before the meet. And, on some random days, I would be able to squat like a boss. I decided to stick to numbers I had gotten for sure for my meet. Open attempt 210. 2nd 220. 3rd 240. I did these exact numbers videoing to make sure I hit the depth on my last work out. Easy. No problem.

The week before my meet I realized my uniform might not be approved by the USAPL guidelines and so I ordered an Inzer one with 2 day shipping. The Friday before my meet it still was not here. UPS couldn’t find my address. I called customer service. I called everywhere. “It will be delivered in 2 business days.” “I don’t have two business days!”

I ended up driving to the airport and picking it up in a small trailer UPS has. Stressful day before the meet.

Meet day. I couldn’t bring myself to talk during the 40 min car ride. All I kept telling myself was to take deep breaths. The meet was packed. I had no idea what to do, but I followed fellow competitors who were extremely helpful.

I warmed up. I felt confident. I was second. I watched the girl before me. I got this. I walked up. Squatted down 210lb. I got this.

Nope. I didn’t listen to the commands.

This still was okay. I’ll go up to 220 because I knew I got 210.

220. I feel a rock tracing its way in my stomach and I walk out again. I listen this time. I go down. Red light.

I didn’t hit depth.

You have 1 min to pick your next weight and it came down to 5 seconds for me. I should have stayed the same. But I had practiced. I could do more. 230lb I put down.

I am embarrassed. I am shaking. My name is displayed back stage and on the wall for the audience with all red boxes and 0’s.

The judges are telling me to get my butt down. I want to crawl in a hole. I go out there.

Start to squat. Here someone yell, up. I go up. It didn’t feel low enough. I pretty much knew it wasn’t low enough, but I was loss. Overwhelmed. White lights.

I got it. Just kidding. The judge hit the wrong button.

I spent this next time with my husband arguing the change in judgement, but I knew I wasn’t low enough. I had to decided to leave or compete anyway even though I was out of the meet. I needed to stay I knew that. But I don’t think I had ever been this embarrassed in my life. I had thought I’d come in last because the competition was stacked, but not to not even score. The money I spent. The time I spent.

I barely warmed up for bench. I missed the first command. The next two lifts I failed. I kept the 110lbs. A weight I knew I could do more than once, but I was checked out. The bar shook in my hands before I benched down. All I could think about was how the bar shook.

6 failures in a row.

I went outside. I wanted to cry. I wanted to go in the car and just cry. But I didn’t. I forced myself to eat something as I had a few bites the entire meet.

My body was sore from being tense. The gym owner came outside to make sure I didn’t leave. I hated seeing my name up there. Red next to all the white.

I went in and asked the judges if I could change my deadlift opener to lighter. I got a no without a look. I’m pretty sure they were tired of the girl missing commands, arguing, and failing all her lifts. I get it.

But this was also one of my worst personal moments.

During warm up, I pulled 225lb and fell forwards. I tried to laugh it off, but got more side looks. I was a mess.

1st attempt 275lb. Came up easy. 2nd attempt 292lb easy. 3rd attempt 319. Not easy, but it came up. I was overwhelmed with happiness. I had PR’s by 4lbs and showed to myself and those there, I am strong. Mostly to myself, I can do this.

The car ride home I was full of mixed emotions. That night I was mentally and physically exhausted. I didn’t want to talk to anyone about how it went. I wasn’t ready for that yet.

I wanted to redeem myself. I still want too. But I need to start small….a local gym meet. Something. I never lifted in front of anyone before but my husband since we have a home gym.

I didn’t score. It was an awful start of the day, but I did something many would not do. I did something that was challenging to me. I did something that scared the crap out of me and I did something that proved to myself that I am strong. I am going after what I want to go after.

Of course, this came at a price…I actually have a problem where I internalize stress and create stomach ulcer. A few days later, I would let this meet and life stressers get the best of me. But, more on that to come.  I actually find myself writing this and telling about my meet more, because it helps me get it out and not keep it in. A little step in the right direction.


2 thoughts on “I Bombed Out: My First Powerlifting Meet

  1. Good on you girl! And it takes a lot of mental toughness, emotional maturity and confidence in your ability to pick yourself up and keep going! And deadlifts are the bomb! To me they are the lift of the meet as they come after you have already put your body through the hell of squats and bench. I find deadlifts to be a brutally honest and powerful lift! Great job! Just a tip with your squatting, check out http://www.squatuniversity.com this guy has helped my squat so much (although you wouldn’t have thought that if you saw my last comp, a similar result to yours!). Keep going and happy lifting!


    1. Thank you! and yes, I agree. The deadlift you are already drained and sore. I’ll check them out. I know my squat problem is a mixture of tight hipflexors/hip problems (was in physical therapy for them growing up off and on) and me mentally syking self out. Thanks again!


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