Class Should I Compete In?
When we all get back to the gym, we might find ourselves in a different weight class to where we were before. David Penney has lifted in a number of classes with us in the North West, he tells us about his experiences below.
In October 2018 I became unwell and in December of that year was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (I will be writing an article on lifting with IBD at a later date and would be interested to hear from other powerlifters with this condition). I was prescribed, amongst other things, corticosteroids, a side effect of which is that you want to eat EVERYTHING! I had recently seen a friend go from a very strong and well-built 90+kg, waste away to 40+kg and almost die as a result of IBD, so I decided that if I was going to experience anything similar then I wanted sufficient body reserves to help me through, which my current low body fat was not likely to provide. I also changed my diet completely to help manage the condition and so it was that I happily and intentionally headed up to the -105kg class. Fortunately, my IBD went into remission and my first competition at this weight (North West Masters) saw me bench 120kg, representing a 5kg increase on my comp PB and I was looking forward to extending this further at the North West Christmas Spectacular a few months later.
However, life struck again 4 weeks before the comp, this time in the form of a very nasty finger crush injury (I caught the tip of my finger between a 150kg squat bar and a safety rack side bar), which resulted in a real bloody mess of ripped flesh and shattered bone and there was talk of having to amputate the tip, though fortunately this was not necessary. I was unable to do any lifting at the gym for 2 weeks and only moderate lifting for a week or so after that. I still managed to compete but my weights were way down, at just 112.5 for my third attempt. Undeterred, I signed up for the British Bench Press Championships, despite experiencing a resurgence of my IBD symptoms due to the antibiotic treatment received for my finger injury! I opened at 115kg and walked away with a new comp PB of 122.5kg and second place in my M2 weight category; I had planned for 125 or 127.5, but don't think I would have hit them on the day, though I certainly expect to next time.
So, what can we take away from this and where is next for me? Will I go for a stint in the -120kg class? I very much doubt it, but you never know! Certainly, there is a correlation between bodyweight and amount of weight lifted, and this was particularly evident at the British Bench Press Championships. However, this is never going to be a nice linear or smooth curve due to life events and there are plenty of very light lifters shifting very heavy loads also. If you are just starting off in powerlifting, experiment a bit during the early years to see what suits you best. If you want to compete seriously then take advice from an experienced coach with a good track record of success.