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Virginia Novice Open 08/06/22 - Personal Retrospective Analysis

In today's post, I'll review my performance on the BIG 3 along with some lessons-learned that I will apply to future competitions. I competed in the USA Powerlifting Virginia Novice Open on Saturday August 6, 2022, which is only my second competition but the first since Covid. All the results can be found on the interwebs, so today I'll be doing a deep dive into my performance along with some context, lessons learned, and highlights. However, definitely stay tuned for my next post where I'll put together a survival guide of sorts for getting through your first powerlifting meet!


  1. I am not endorsed or endorsing any of the products listed below. They are identified for context, informational, and entertainment purposes only.

  2. I have a high tolerance for caffeine. I do not normally consume the caffeine amounts described below and am not recommending you do the same.

  3. There is footage of me in a singlet. If that offends you, then look the other way.

  4. Any views and opinions expressed are my own and are not affiliated with the USAPL or any brands listed below.


I literally got NO sleep the night before the meet, which definitely cost me some confidence, kinesthetic awareness, and pounds on the squat. I thought I was being slick by staying at a hotel close to the meet the night before so I could sleep in and be 100% recharged for the meet. Well, that backfired... the air-conditioning unit was obnoxiously loud. Based on the HVAC system design chosen for the hotel, I knew that moving into another room would not solve the problem. Specifically, it was the noise of air movement and the fan that kept me up, not the compressor. Unless I wanted to sweat all night and still not be able to sleep, I chose to keep the AC on and not sleep. I tried covering my ears with pillows and while that slightly attenuated the noise, it was not enough. So I just stayed up all night thinking about how the heck I'm going to get through the meet alive :)

Lesson 1: Always keep ear plugs and an eye mask with you when traveling for a meet, or really travelling for anything.

At least I got to do early check-in, get rack heights, and do gear checks the night before so that was 3 less things to worry about the morning of when most of the other competitors are trying to get all of this done.


I got out of bed at 4:30 AM to start getting ready for the meet, i.e. pack, answer the call of nature, shower, etc. Weigh-in was at 7:00 AM and I wanted to be there 6:45 AM. I always train fasted but I knew I was going to need copious amounts of CARBS and CAFFEINE to get through the day. I stopped by the local Starbucks and got a venti iced coffee with syrup in my personal Nalgene bottle because single use plastics are bad!!! I also grabbed two (2) chocolate chip croissants.

I weighed in at 7:05 AM on the dot, only to find out I was underweight. I came in at 87.55 kg or 193 lbs. I normally walk around at 89 kg or 196 lbs, so weighing in at 193 lbs started getting into my head since based on previous experience my bench press capacity also decreases with weight. I don't know if it was work stress or what, but in the future I'll need to do a better job of filling out my weight class.

Lesson 2: Keep your weight in check, especially during meet week.

Immediately after weigh-in, I pounded the croissants and iced coffee so I'd have some time to digest a bit before getting the heavy weights on my back. I traditionally have always trained fasted, so I wanted to maximize the time between the last bite and my opening attempts. I dislike the feeling of food in my stomach when I train, and I didn't want to become a meme of someone projectile vomiting during a lift.


I started warming up for squats around 30 minutes before my opener. This is also when I opened my first can of monster energy zero sugar ultra sunrise, which I consumed throughout warmups and finished after my opener. I also started sipping on Liquid IV Strawberry Hydration Multipliers with water. Warmups and opener went well in my opinion with all things considered. My 2nd attempt was harder than I would have liked, but I knew I had another gear or two left and went for 197.5 kg on my 3rd. It is a weight I've done before and was confident I could get it, even if it was at an RPE of 10 :)

Unfortunately, a front and side judge didn't think I made the lift. I walked away from my 3rd attempt squat thinking it was a good lift. I didn't realize until way later that I got 2 reds and at that point I was just too tired to ask the refs why... maybe I racked too early? Depth was solid and there was no downward bar movement on the way up. You be the judge. At least I gave the crowd a good show... at the end of the day, most spectators don't care what weight you lift, they just want to see you push yourself!

Bench Press

I started warming up for bench around 20 minutes before my opener and just kept sipping on Liquid IV. Warmups felt strong and the debacle that was my 3rd attempt squat was in my rear view mirror. My first attempt felt like a warmup so I added 5 kg for the 2nd attempt. My 2nd attempt was a bit harder than I wanted and I haven't benched this heavy in training so I went with a conservative 2.5 kg for my 3rd attempt. In retrospect, I probably could have hit 115 or 117.5 kg for my 3rd. C'est la vie!


At this point I was literally running on fumes, caffeine, and will power. I started warming up for deads around 30 minutes before my opener. Cue in the second can of monster energy to get me through the rest of the meet. My opener moved quick so I added 12.5 kg for the 2nd attempt. The 2nd attempt was not so hard, not so easy. I went in with a conservative 7.5 kg for my 3rd attempt but definitely had more in the tank!


I totally wasn't expecting to place on the podium, so getting 2nd was a nice consolation prize for getting red lighted on my 3rd squat. I realized standing at the podium that in order to maximize my potential, I need to fill out and/or get into a higher weight class.

Lesson 3: The smallest person in a weight class with the most lean mass is generally going to win a strength competition, all other things being equal.


All in all I had a great meet and would like to thank USA Powerlifting for putting together a great event. I hit a meet total PR of 525 kg, along with meet PR's in all the lifts. Hitting an all-time deadlift PR with more in the tank and getting on the podium was icing on the cake! Of course all of this would not have been made possible without the love and support of my wife who puts up with my training and lack of attention to things unrelated to it :) The final tally of everything I needed to make it out alive is:

  • "10% Luck, 20% skill, 15% Concentrated Power of Will" - Fort Minor

  • Starbucks Venti Iced Coffee x1: 120 calories, 30 g carbs, 235 mg of caffeine

  • Starbucks Chocolate Croissant x2: 600 calories, 18g fat, 34 g carbs

  • Monster Energy Ultra Sunrise x2: 20 calories, 10 g carbs, 310 mg of caffeine

  • Liquid IV Strawberry Hydration Multiplier x3: 135 calories, 33 g carbs

  • Grand Total: 875 calories, 18 grams fat, 170 g carbs, 545 g caffeine

I love this sport and encourage everyone remotely interested in competing to just do it. If you're wondering if I will compete again, see below.


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