By Max Hall
Setting the StageThe biggest meet of my life. Over 500 lifters, 4 days long, 2 platforms and a massive hotel venue. I can honestly say this in the most nervous I have been for a meet, yet the most fun I have had. You know how the saying goes “ Pressure creates diamonds’. Enjoy my powerlifting meet recap of 2021 IPL Worlds.
My prep into Worlds was a brutal one. Let me paint you a picture. I had just come back home to Alberta Canada after about 4.5 months of being a nomad around the United States. I competed in a small local meet, took a few weeks off, drove home and it was time to get back to work.
Returning home, I started this meet prep like I would any meet prep. With a hypertrophy phase. Something I feel many lifters fail to see the value in but personally I strongly value. My hypertrophy went amazingly, I hit some nice AMRAP PRs and I was ready to transition to my strength phase after a nice deload week, and this is when adversity presented itself.
My body was feeling sore so I decided I would go to a massage therapist to get some work done to help with recover to feel fresh for my next block. I don’t talk about this much but the massage therapist sexually assaulted me. This was mentally challenging for me. I felt defeated and discouraged. Just before this I had come to a mentally epiphany that I not only wanted to compete casually anymore but I want to be the best in the world, ever.
My motivation behind this is important. I decide this was important to me because I wanted to prove to other weebs, nerds, people that struggle with mental health and those with Autism that they could do it as well. This situation was frustrating because I didn’t know how to respond but I knew I couldn’t let it defeat me. I also knew I couldn’t do it alone.
I had been self coached for the last year and a bit and was frankly loving it. I enjoy programming. I knew now more than ever I needed more support in my journey to be the best. There is nothing weak about reaching out for help when you are struggling, in fact its one of the strongest things you can do. I reached out to Gavin Adin to be my coach. He was on the phone with me the next day telling me he believed in me and was there for me and I instantly knew he was the guy who will help me reach greatness.
With that said on the physical side of prep training for this meet has been the hardest of any meet I’ve done. Gavin worked me hard and I discovered I have never properly peaked before. It is not for the faint of heart. Peaking was exhausting. I was always tired and irritable. At one point I almost threw my belt at another lifter in the gym for taking my bench. It all paid off come meet day though and I ended up hitting some personal records.
This Prep squats were a battle. Six to three weeks out from the meet squats were going amazing. Three weeks out disaster struck. I hit my top single of 452lbs which matched my former Squat personal record, then started my 3x3 at 405lbs. The first two sets felt like butter but on the second rep of the third set I felt a pop in my groin. I sat the bar on the safeties and got stuck under the bar. The safeties were high enough but my ribs got caught on my belt so I couldn’t roll forward. After a few seconds my spotter realized what was going on and pulled the bar off me and I was free. My groin however was pulled.
I was mad what felt like a freak accident left me feeling unsure for the future ahead. I finished my bench for the session but was unable to deadlift. 1 week later I was able to squat 405 for 3 singles. 1 more week later and 1 week out I hit 415lbs for a double. Meet day was the day of reckoning, warmups felt great and pain free.
It was time for my first attempt. I was nervous, This was the biggest stage I’ve stepped on but also I was confident. “Bar’s loaded for Max Hall” the announcer called. I step onto the platform check the weight on both sides to make sure there’s not a misload. I grip the bar and go underneath it. I settle the bar into my spot on the back of my traps, take my big deep breath and stand up.
One step back, two steps back a third step to even my feet out, I turn my toes out and lock my knees. “Squat” The head judge calls. I take my big deep bracing breath and get my body as tight as humanly possible. I sink down into my squat hit depth and blow up out of my squat like nothing is even on my back. It moves like an opener should 197.5kg/435lbs has fallen. No groin pain thankfully.
Two white lights one red. The judge on my left calls me on depth, I haven’t convinced him. My second squat the same, the left judge is not convinced I’m hitting depth. As I come off the platform the right judges tells me that she almost gave me a red light for depth as well. I have hit 205kg/ 452lbs to tie my former squat personal record but I have barely scrapped by. I know that I must come back and really sink my third.
I do. I absolutely bury my third squat of 210kg/ 463lbs for a 5kg PR. Three white lights. I am three for three on squats. The perfect start to a meet.
Bench is the bane of my existence. I want to like bench, I really do. My body was not built for bench press. I have long arms and a short torso. If I could bend myself the like girl from the exorcist I WOULD. Alas my torso does not bend and my arms are long so range of motion galore is the story of my bench press I continue to improve regardless.
After squats we had about a two hour break before bench. The meet was a long day and stretched out. Had the meet been at a gym the long day would have made it difficult. However Worlds was at The Hilton Hotel Orange County which made the breaks easier. After squats I went up to my hotel room and attempted to get some food down while watching anime. Unfortunately, with my adrenaline high from squats I was only able to get down a few bites of my sandwich. I knew sugar would go down a little easier so I switched to skittles and watched some Bakugo AMV’s for the next hour.
I went down to the venue watched for Flight C to end squats and Flight D to start so I could take the warmup room. Warmups for bench felt great. Over the past few years I have been plagued with shoulder injury after shoulder injury and have had to be very careful with bench press. Thankfully today there was no pain.
Warmups finished and I get ready to bench. Unlike squats and deadlifts where I’m usually close to the back of a flight Bench I am almost inevitably near the beginning. I go out for my opening attempt of 107.5kg/ 237lbs. “Start” “Press” Flies up easy. My second 112.5kg/ 248lbs also flies up for 2.5kg bench PR. The meet is going just as planned I could have asked for a better day so far. “He’s 2 for 2 on bench and went 3 for 3 on squats, can he have a perfect 6 for 6 day?” asks the commentator. In hindsight he probably jinxed me. I picked 117.5kg/ 259lbs as a conservative 3rd attempt.
I whole heartedly believed that I had 120kg and my second moved so fast and easy that I decided 117.5kg was a safe call to best set myself up for a 9 for 9 meet. Plus it was still a 7.5kg meet PR.
I go out, get myself set, pull the bar out over my chest. “Start” yells the head judge, I descend the bar to my chest. “press” yells the judge, I press. The bar flies off my chest, but about ¾ of the way up I hit a wall. I keep pressing with everything I have. My back cramps and I lose all my power. I truly believe a little more food and water and 117.5kg would have been mine. I have never failed a bench on lockout before, I have always failed off my chest. As repentance for my bench press sin I will do all the triceps this week don’t worry. I will be back for that weight and much more.
On the bright side it was time for my favourite lift. The deadlift.
For deadlifts I channeled my inner hero and switched my singlet to my young All Might singlet. For this meet this switch felt very symbolic. At times people like to tell me I’m like All Might because of my strength and the mentor role I take. In my head I’m more like Deku or a young All Might. I don’t feel I deserve the recognition of the symbol of peace as I’m not there yet. To be the symbol of lifting is what I strive for but the journey has just started. On top of that I’m a foreigner in the US for Worlds (I’m from Canada), Like All Might was a foreigner when he was in hero college. Finally at the start of the first my hero academia movie young All Might reveals his new move “California Smash” which is what I was about to do on my deadlift in Orange County, California.
I wanted to open at 245kg/ 540lbs for my deadlift but my coached talked me down to 237.5kg/ 523lbs. I’m not kidding you when I say that flew up so unbelievably fast. To add some context for this meet Kabuki was demoing their brand new to the market deadlift bar. Advertised as the whippiest deadlift bar on the market. So here’s the thing with deadlift bars. If you pull really fast off the floor the more whip the more likely it is to pull you off balance. If you’re like me and you start slow and accelerate as lift goes on they might as well had been asking me to do a rack pull. The bar was perfectly suited for my pull style. I jumped to 245kg/ 540lbs to tie my meet PR and solidify a total PR. That also felt like a warmup pull.
Now here’s where I made a mistake. I was thinking to myself wow I feel like I have 20kg or more left in me still. I wanted to take a 4th deadlift. Now as the rules state if you break a record with your 3rd pull you are allowed a 4th. Now I had already broken the Canadian national record with my 2nd so my third would also be a record and I could take a 4th. My plan was make a conservative jump to 252.kg/ 557lbs which I did and it flew up and next I wanted 265kg/ 584lbs. However I forgot to declare my third a record and wasn’t allowed to take the 4th I ended deadlifts with a nice 7.5kg personal record feeling like I had so much more in the tank.
I can’t be mad about a 15kg total PR and 4th place on the world stage. Especially because I had to move up a weight class from 67.5kg to 75kg for this meet. Everyone looked way bigger than me like they had cut down quite a bit to make weight and I walked in at weight.
This was the most fun I have ever had at a meet. Being around other strong lifters is so motivating to me. The venue was beautiful, I really enjoyed being at a hotel for a meet. It made it easy to go up to the room between lifts. The hot tub, pool and having a mini fridge were awesome tools for competing away from home. The restaurant at the hotel had awesome food. The vendors working the meet were awesome brands and I got to meet one of my idols, Joe Sullivan two days before competing.
I am so happy with this meet, but I am not content. I want more. It is back to building we go until I am the absolute best in the world.
Gavin and I are cooking up a crazy off season watch my media to see me grow like crazy. I want to be the best and that means beating the best. IPL Worlds was a phenomenal meet. I want to start by saying that the USPA is an amazing federation that is welcoming to people of all levels. I really love the federation and what they are doing for the sport. I hope they continue to grow and do become the mecca of powerlifting. As of right now they are not though. The split between the USAPL and IPF make things kind of tricky.
My goal is to be the best by beating the best. Head-to-head. As of right now the best 74/75kg lifter is Taylor Atwood and he belongs to the IPF. If he switches to the USAPL and leaves the IPF or if someone else dethrones him in my years building my goal will have to shift a little bit. As of right now the goal is IPF Worlds I will spend the next two years qualifying for the Canadian national team and going to IPF Worlds where I hope to compete along side the best. If when I get there that’s no longer where the best are at least I will have checked off competing in Worlds in 3 different federations.
After that if I need to switch again to go compete against the best I will but what I do know is that regardless of what federation I am in I need to train my ass off to become the best. I have a long way to go but I believe that I can do it. I will become the symbol of lifting and inspire others that they can do it too.
Hey, I’m Max Hall host of the Plus Ultra Fitness Podcast. My goal in life is to inspire others to grow using the combination of anime and fitness.