I still need to learn how to lift at bigger meets!

Yesterday I lifted at the Arnold Weightlifting Championships out in Columbus, Ohio. In a sense it went reasonably well, with a 111kg snatch, 147kg clean and jerk, and a 258kg total for first place in the 77kg weight class. But in reality, my two prospective serious competitors weighed in at 85kg (one of the bombed out and the other totalled higher than I did). I missed my second and third snatches at 117kg and 118kg and missed my final jerk at 152kg. While the clean and jerk would have been a big PR, I was definitely hoping to do much more in the snatch.

Just to point out why I was expecting to do well, the week before last was EXTREMELY productive in terms of personal bests. I tested five different exercises: hit at least one PR in every single one of them and didn't miss a single lift. I back squatted 205kg for a double, power snatched 104kg for a double and an overhead squat, clean and jerked 148kg, snatched 120kg, and power cleaned 141kg plus a push jerk double. I accomplished my major goal at this meet of placing as high as I could in my class, but I didn't make it in the top five overall (with its accompanying monetary award), and I ALWAYS want to make the majority of my lifts.

Because I never could leave a meet without troubleshooting what went wrong, here are the things that I think were issues. First, my warmup sequence was not well-designed for me. I take most of the blame for this, because I made most of the choices or didn't speak up when I thought they should have been different. The standard method is to write down your opening weight and figure out your warmups from heaviest to lightest. For example, we expected to open around 110kg and so we wrote 106kg, 101kg, 95kg, 88kg, 82kg, 75kg, 65kg, and 55kg. You expect to take your biggest weight jumps at the light end and do one lift for every three lifts that the competition does on the platform. For me, however, I don't need that much rest - in fact, I don't do as well if I rest too long, so I have been setting things up so that I lift only after every two attempts. In this meet, though, we stayed with the standard three attempts, and we were also in a rush to begin. But then we ended up going too early, and we had to wait longer between warmups, even repeating the warmup at 88kg. Even worse, people missed a LOT of attempts, which only increased the amount of time I had to wait. Finally, my biggest mistake was not making the weight jumps larger. These days I am used to snatching 60kg, then 72kg, then 84kg, then 90kg-96kg, 101kg-102kg, and 106kg. Instead of taking six or seven warmup sets I took nine. Compounding that was the fact that there was usually a good ten minutes between my platform attempts because everyone was lifting around the same weight, and I also did extra snatches at 105kg and 113kg between my first and second attempts and a snatch pull at 118kg before my third attempt. My shoulders were tired by the time I actually got out there!

I'm still working on focusing better out on the platform, and I cut a little bit more weight than I would have liked (what's 12 pounds in a week anyway?), but I definitely think that the major issues were the choices in warmups and my inability to deal with long rests between attempts. For a big meet like this, it is expected. My choices seem to be either to learn how to lift maximal weight with ten minutes between attempts or to get used to taking reps in between. I also think that we should count on certain people missing some reps, because I believe I am much better at rushing through warmups if we're wrong than at sitting and waiting. In the future, I will make sure I stick with the tried-and-true jumps and with the waiting period I am comfortable with. I'm not sure what I need to do to get used to the long, variable waits between attempts... Maybe I just need more experience in big meets. I have only one more meet, the East Coast Classic in May, before Nationals in June.

On a better note, though, we did make some of those adjustments for the clean and jerk session. We waited longer before warming up, and I took no warmups between platform attempts, even when I had to wait ten minutes. And I made every single clean and all but my last jerk. Once again, did I mention that I haven't yet missed a clean at 145kg or higher? I am now eleven for eleven, all the way up to 152kg!

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