I am waiting for my flight to Thailand now and figured that I would do a little reflection on my experiences preparing for this competition. It has been quite a wild ride since the beginning of January 2019, and thus far, this year has really challenged me to grow and step out of my comfort zone. I am also hoping that this will be the start of more posts that I’ll be writing to chronicle my training and general thoughts and musings on lifting and life in general.
The Initial Thoughts
In January, when I received an invitation from Powerlifting Singapore, I immediately thought about what a perfect opportunity this would be for me to get acquainted with the Asian community of powerlifting. I signed up almost immediately, fresh off a holiday in Hongkong with my girlfriend. I ate a shit load and was pretty overweight, but I did not think too much of it; I love a challenge after all!
I was also intending to cut down as I was starting to push the scales a bit too hard (bordering around 80kg), and a competition was the perfect splash of motivation I needed. With this in mind, I seized this chance and start a one-month preparation towards the competition.
The Countdown Begins
I was just one month out when I started my preparation, so I did not have much time to waste. There were 2 major things that needed to be addressed:
1. I needed to get my weight down.
2. I needed to plan my competition preparation to factor in an increase in my workload at my job during January and February.
The Realities of Dropping Weight
I’ll be really frank here, I was not even sure if I would be able to make weight. I was one month out and sitting at 80kg. The last quarter of 2018 had been really crazy and I guess everything took its toil on my weight.
Losing this much weight in the given time was very challenging. Given the high levels of stress in my life, I knew it was not the best situation to be in to start a prep. In addition, I gain weight quite easily, so my calories had to be pretty low for me to drop my weight down. However, as a coach, I have always felt that I needed to ‘walk the talk’, being an example to my athletes and clients.
Everyday became this crazy battle against myself, and I always felt like I was fighting against temptations again and again. This caused me to be extremely cranky at times. Even though I knew it was part and parcel of the process, and I had expected it, going through it still sucked.
The Best Laid Plans…
When I started going about designing my training program, I considered 2 major factors – non-routine work schedule and bad sleeping hours. Training had to be as precise as possible, not wasting any time and only doing what I needed to do.
I decided to adopt a higher frequency, lower volume per session approach. This allowed me more opportunity to practice my cues and refine my technique. When you focus on technique, you make training way more efficient, allowing more progress in a shorter time.
I designed a 5 day training week. I did squats three times a week, benched five times a week and deadlifted twice a week. Each training session lasted only 30 mins to an hour, which allowed me to focus on specific session tasks, and fit in well with my life and work schedule.
This all worked well for the first two weeks, but even with this set up, I seemed to lose my momentum in the second half of the prep.
The Struggle is Real
January had been the busiest month for me, as I was working in two different places in a day. Having to shuttle regularly back and forth was definitely taking a toll on me.
One of the more ironic things about working as a trainer is that even though I work in a gym, it is hard to actually apportion out the time to train yourself due to the nature of your appointments and client scheduling. Where most people can escape to the gym after a day at the office, the gym IS my office.
One of the key points of my competition preparation program design was that I would be doing more focused and concise sessions. Personally, I did not enjoy this style of training as it often felt very rushed and ‘incomplete’ compared to previous preps where I had 1.5 to 2 hours to get all the training work done.
What I have learnt is that when you are met with such situations, it is best to go with the flow and keep things going, never idling for too long. There are times where I don’t really feel like training, but I tell myself as long as I change to my training clothes, it is time to go. No slacking, no wasting of time, just make use of that 1 hour window and train.
I also struggled with my nutrition, what with the Chinese New Year celebrations falling on the week of competition. It was definitely harder to adhere to the strict nutrition and diet required. I had to work around the social meals that characterised the festive season, and definitely put on some water weight after various meals with my family and relatives.
I learnt not to panic and to immediately get back on the plan, allowing my body to adjust back into the routine of the diet. I will admit that there are times when I harboured feelings of discouragement, but I always tried to keep myself going by focusing on the bigger picture.
The Show Must Go On!
This preparation was most definitely an interesting one, and even though I had anticipated many of the obstacles that I would faced, it still pushed me close to my limits. I relish such experiences because they are always a fantastic opportunity to understand myself better.
When placed in such circumstances, I guess the key is really to never give up. As cliched as it sounds, focusing on the big picture and end goal helped to keep me going.
Always remember, regardless of what happens in training, you may fall, but you can always move forward to see what else you can do to save yourself. Every step forward, however small, is still progress.