All photo's and images courtesy of Curtis Dennis and/or Bodybuilding.com
By Curtis Dennis Jr.
It was back in 1996 when I first discovered power lifting. If you read my "burning desire" article, then you already know what got me started. After seeing power lifters in person at the Arnold Classic back in 1997, I told my coach that I wanted to train for a meet. He told me one in Pickerington, Ohio (outside of Columbus) in May. So I trained hard for my first meet, but I didn't know what to expect until that day. But I made sure I hit every rep of every set on every workout to make sure I do well there. I loved the workouts my coach put me through, I was hurting when I left the gym which was great for me.
The day before the meet was the weigh-ins. I saw a few lifters that looked strong there and I was getting excited. However since my Coach was one of the guys putting on the meet, he had to be there so I hung around and met some of the lifters there. The more lifters I met, more excited I became. I didn't know there were people out there who loved power lifting like I did.
I couldn't remember the date of the meet without referring to the training log I had back then (yes, I still have to this day!!). I remember sleeping over at my coach's house. The night before, I was helping him get the equipment for the meet (i.e. benches, plates, scoreboards, etc.). I also remember pigging out on pizza and milk (my favorite combination) that night as well. I also got a look at my first World Gym in East Columbus which was very nice and very big. My coach was working there as a trainer.
My First Contest
Any ways, I awoke the next morning feeling extremely excited about competing in my first power lifting meet(which was a bench meet by the way). I was so nervous the night before, I tried to calm myself by reading comics and muscle mags that I had brought with me (yes. I still read comics!!). I went and brushed my teeth and everything, but I was even more excited than the night before. I always get so excited to a point where I can't eat.
My coach and I went to Burger King and had some breakfast there. I was still finding it hard to eat, but I did any ways because I wanted to be ready for the day's events. When we got there, I didn't see anyone there, but my Coach was on of the directors of the meet so he had to be there first. He told me it was chance see how things are setup. It was about an hour when people starting showing up. This was an high school bench meet, so high school teams started arriving from all over Columbus and around Central Ohio.
I wasn't sure on how many lifters there were, but it was a lot and believe it or not I didn't think about winning the meet, but I was nervous on the fact that my lifts may not be good enough to hang with anyone else.
At 8 A.M., they started the rules meeting where they discussed what's legal and what's not and how they intend to do the placing. My coach had already went over this with me in the gym so I was ready for it. Once the rules meeting was over, it was time to start warming up and posting roster to see who goes first (it always the lighter guys going first!!). My coach told me that when my time came around, he would do a lift-off for me. He was one of the judges at the meet. So I warmed up with 135, 185, 205, and then 215 for my last one.
But I started warming up too soon because I was about 10 or so lifters out and I was getting too excited. I saw other guys warming up and it inspired me even more so. When I felt myself getting cold, I warmed up again, but that made me even more excited to tell you the truth. I was approached by a few guys who wanted to spot me on my warm-ups. I hadn't seen this type of camaraderie (1) in a long while and it was great to see it amongst power lifters. When it was time for my first attempt, my hands got very sweaty and my coach was waiting for me on the bench. I laid down and prepared to do 230. My coach was motivating me and was telling me not to get nervous and before your know it...I had done 230 pretty easily.
My coach told me that the first attempt should always be the easiest. Now after my attempt, I started taking notice of the other lifters. There were a lot of teens benching over 300 at this meet and few benching over 350. It was amazing but at the same time it was nerve-racking. I was benching 230 while others were doing 50-75 pounds more. So I said to myself, "hey, there will be more meets like this, so I'll just try for my PR (personal record). But nonetheless, I had nothing but respect and honor for all of the lifters there.
My second attempt came around and I was assisted by one of the other lifter who was also competing in his first meet. I did 240, but it was getting a little difficult, but without hesitation I told the judges I wanted 250. All of the nervousness left me when I did my second attempt. This was a very good meet because 75% of the lifters there hardly missed any attempts. Very few missed one attempt. I tried not to do anything until my last attempt.
I was pacing and pacing back and forth and than I sat down. I was surprised, I thought the nervousness had left me, but I guess it made sense that I was nervous...I was coming up on my last attempt for me. When it was time, I walked very fast do the bench. When I brought 250 down and press it stalled and then I heard people rooting me (people I didn't even know!!) and I continued to press as the small crowd and my coach rooted me on and finally locked out 250!! I was very proud of myself that I did that much (back then 250 was a lot for me!!). Finally, it was all over.
But the most amazing thing at the meet happened...a teenager from Utica (about 19) had performed the biggest bench at the meet...385!! I was amazed and this got me hooked on power lifting for life. After the last lift, the started with the award presentation. I still had a "small" hope for getting something, but the placing went up to 3rd. But my coach had handed me a metal for the hard work he had put me through and for doing the meet. I was proud of it, even though he told me I came in fifth, I was still proud. I stuck around for the other bench meet that followed.
By the way, the bench I did at this meet was touch-and-go and not rest-pause. The following meet was a "real" power lifting meet with the rest-pause. I helped with putting the plates on the bar and I witnessed a lot of good lifts. The biggest lift in this meet was 500, which was the most I've ever seen on a bench press. It was amazing.
Afterwards, it was like I didn't want to leave because I've seen so much and wanted to see more. I went out for hamburgers, fries, and some ice cream afterwards and then I went home.
I couldn't stop thinking about that meet so bad that I went to school that Monday and told all of my friends how I had a good time at the meet. I loved it and wanted to do more. To this day, I've done nine meets and there were all good(a few first places), but it was nothing compared to my first meet. For those of you out there reading this, if you've yet to compete in power lifting, your missing a rush. Later this year (might be this summer), I may do a bench press since thinking about my first meet got me motivated. I want to see if my max is in the range of 385-405. Well, I hope you all enjoyed reading about my first meet. If you have any comments or praises or just want to write, email me firstname.lastname@example.org. Well, until next time, stay big.