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By: Louie Simmons
When I started competing in power lifting in 2003, I was a svelte — even scrawny — but lean 217 lbs. People thought I was lifting in the 198s because I always looked lighter than I actually weighed. As the years passed, so did the weight classes. By 2005, after fewer than two years of competing, I started to hit what was, for me, some good numbers. My bodyweight climbed to a stouter (and more suiting for my height at 5 feet, 10 inches) bodyweight of about 235 to 237 lbs. My squat went from 705 lbs. to a respectable 925 lbs., bench to 556 lbs. from 424 lbs., and deadlift to 733 lbs. from 622 lbs. I won’t pretend that supplements didn’t play a part in this, because they obviously did, but gaining 20 lbs. of solid mass and putting about 500 lbs. on my total isn’t just about supplements — which are a subject for another time.
Fast-forward five years to 2010. I’m now at the top of the 275-lb. weight class (weighing 280 lbs. first thing in the morning) and besides holding slightly more water and a higher percentage of body fat, I’m simply a bigger and much stronger version of the guy who was lifting at 220 lbs. fewer than three years ago. To give a brief overview of the last five years: after 2005 I went on to lift for two more years in the 220-lb. class, with great success. I ended up with a 1,030-lb. squat, 633-lb. bench, a 755-lb. deadlift and a 2,375-lb. total, which is still ranked in the top 10 on the all-time list. Not bad, but that was the best I could do having to cut down to 220 lbs. from upward of 245 lbs.
Once I felt like my time ran out in the 220-lb. class, I went up to the next class, to 242 lbs., in mid-2007 for a very brief time. My weight climbed to higher than 263 lbs. by late 2008. Pretty soon I was cutting 20-plus lbs. just to make it down to 242 lbs. After registering best lifts of 1,052, 785, 771 and 2,570 lbs. total — which, I believe, is now fourth all-time — I finished with that class.
Some people ask, what the hell happened? I know exactly what happened. Every time I cut weight and competed, my body grew. It had to adapt to the requirements that I placed upon it. I starved my body of food, water and nutrients, then suddenly gave it all it needed, lifted at 100 percent for a meet and continued to eat for the next week to make up for all the food I missed. It never failed — every time I cut weight, I came back heavier, bigger and stronger. Sometimes it was only 2 lbs., sometimes 6. Even when I tried to slow my body down and eat like a bodybuilder, my body didn’t comply. I would either get injured, weak or over-trained. Sometimes I would still keep gaining size, even with a bare minimum of food.
Knowing what I know now, I would say that my body knew better than I did. It didn’t want to be a puny 230 lbs. It knew that I needed to be upward of 270 lbs. to best fill out my frame. It also knew that to achieve my best possible squat, bench and dead would require me to become a 275-er.
Sometimes the deadlift can suffer with weight gains. I think that if I were to get to 290-plus it would kill my flexibility and ability to pull effectively. The funny things is, I never pulled 800 lbs. in a meet until I moved up to 275. I guess this reverts back to my deepest belief in powerlifting, “Listen to your body!” PM ~Reprinted with permission from Power magazine, March 2010.
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