A Look In The Mirror & Time For CHANGE – Part 2 of 2

By: Brian Carroll

Powerlifting and LIFE

“I’m going back down to 242″…..

I’d like to weigh 255-260 and make the small, and easy, cut down to 242 and compete there. Maybe not cut for the smaller meets, but definitely for the larger meets. I can safely and easily cut down 20 pounds with minimal effort. Anything more than that, is hard work.

In order to maximize the 275 weight class and hit close to my best potential there, I would need to continue climbing to 300 pounds.

I don’t want to do that anymore for the reasons I have already stated. I don’t want to feel like shit anymore. I don’t want to walk around feeling like I am out of breath.


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Dr. McGill and I had a conversation not too long ago. I asked him what he thought about the weight issue and wanted his take on my back health being lighter. He thought the lighter bodyweight would be good for my back and the pressure on it during the bench, which has been my biggest hurdle since coming back. He specifically said, “More healthy in many ways, inside and out”.

I think being a little lighter and agile will help me with this, so of course I agree. Time will tell, as with everything, but less compression day to day, and less bearing on my spine when setting up on the bench too. I hope it does make a difference. I don’t think it will hurt my chances, either way.

Of all things, the extension on the bench is what really irritates my back, especially when I am at my heaviest.

I noticed the trend in my lifting. The heavier I was, the more my back bothered me while benching. I’m hoping for the best.

The best way to know is to test it out.

I didn’t lift very long in the 242 class originally, only about 10 meets or so, give or take. I was impatient and was trying to get as big and as strong as possible. Looking back, I think this was a mistake. If I could go back and do it more gradually I would. Now is my chance to relive history.

The initial goal is to get through a meet in one piece and total around 2500. My best official lifts equal 2815 and my best lifts at 242 are 1063/785/771 for a total 2570, and best official lifts added together make over 2600. I would like to make a run at the all time total, but that is in the future. Right now it is one meet at a time. Getting through one meet, one training cycle, one lift and one competition at a time.

Being in OVERKILL gear will really help with this. Rudy Rosales has been EXTREMELY helpful with getting my new gear dialed in that is ALL custom-made, and the best in the industry. NOTE: all gear is solid these days at the top level, but what sets OVERKILL apart is the customizations and most importantly the FIT – in which Rudy does better than anyone.

Talk is f#$king CHEAP, so let’s do some lifting instead and show some actions instead of empty words.

Obviously nutrition is going to play a major role in this.

Most lifters that I coach and powerlifters in general know that sometimes you have to eat some filler foods to help fill out your weight class. It’s not uncommon to slam down Oreos with whole milk at night and maybe some ice cream. These are two of my go to foods for both clients and me when trying to add weight. It always works, plus it’s fun to eat shit like that.
Shakes and Ice Cream are HUGE weaknesses

I won’t be doing this anymore. I would sometimes eat a whole bag of Oreos in a couple sittings. This would destroy my cholesterol and that is not good. I went to get blood work last year after going on a binge of Oreos and my HDL (good cholesterol) was decent, but my LDL (bad) was off the charts. Once I cut out the late night binges, added in some cranberry juice and the occasional alcohol drink at night, it started to correct itself.

What I did to start the process was to cut out junk food. This is still a chore for me. I love shitty food. I started to eat better food sources all day, every day. I started to eat less food and much less shit food. If I’m going to eat junk, and my weight will allow it, I will choose to eat it after I train so the damage will be minimal and will be somewhat used for recovery. The main sources of my diet are now protein shakes, steak, rice, chicken with peppers and onions, eggs, greek yogurt, milk and lots of caffeine.

I’m going to eat my way down to my goal bodyweight, and then make the adjustments necessary to stay there. If I need to add some junk food to maintain my weight, then that’s fine as long as my blood pressure and blood work allow this.

As far as supplements, I’m going to be more regimented. Every night I take, and will continue to take cranberry juice, B3, B6, fish oil, Vitamin C, Fiber supplements, and ZMA. Every morning I add coconut oil in my coffee. Nothing special or overly complicated; just the basics.

I will also be talking with my friend John Kiefer about some tweaks when they become necessary. Jesse Burdick is good for these types of things too. By the way, Jesse will also be keeping a log on Power Rack Strength very soon, and you can benefit from his expertise. Keep an eye out for that.

I’m currently moving back and forth between 269 and 274 in the morning. I am down from a high of 293 on May 1st, 2014. My plan is to average about ½ pound loss of bodyfat a week, and slowly work my way down to around 260. At that weight I will look and feel so much better. Right now I see, and feel, a difference already. Will I lose some strength? Every sign points to yes, as I’ve hit my best lifts at 280 or higher. We will have to see. I’m hoping to eventually get stronger than I ever was at that weight range and take advantage of the leverage gains on the deadlift, and being able to wear tighter squat gear to help curb the damage. Those that know me would say I’m pretty optimistic, so that’s my stance on this deal. I don’t plan to use this as an excuse to be weaker, but as an opportunity to be stronger at a lighter bodyweight.

The biggest thing is to minimize the damage. Now that I’ve got the bloat weight off, I need to be very careful not to get the rest off too fast. I’m currently walking about 1-1¼ miles per day, at a decent pace of about 3.5 MPH. I’m no cardio bunny by any means, but the goal is to be leaner and healthier, not an Olympic speed walker.

I do want to get the mile less than 15 minutes, which will be quite a chore for me.

I have a competition that I’m leaning toward doing, which is Shawn Knowles RPS October 25th, in Fort Lauderdale (Arnold Qualifier) and also we will be hosting a seminar the next day (more info soon to follow). I was unable to get into WPC worlds, as it’s set up to be a huge meet and all spots are filled on both waiting list and roster. I would have been lucky to get a spot and not deserving of one since I didn’t qualify.

This will have to STOP!

Here are my goals that I plan on accomplishing as well as my tentative plan to do so, going forward.

All of this is subject to change.

• Get down below 265 by around August, and keep as much muscle as possible.
• Continue in off-season mode until then and continue to build my base. Soon after I will add in my new Overkill equipment to ensure that I have a correct fit. I will combine raw with equipped until I’m 10 weeks out.
• Start my precontest cycle about 10 weeks out, mid-August or so
• Continue to eat well, and stay on the walking every day. I will also be pulling the sled on squat training days.
• Be aware of my leverage changes and make adjustments when needed in training/programming.
• Keep binge junk food eating to a minimum, and only after heavy training sessions.
• Stay on my back rehab and continue to improve my deadlift. This has been the slow one to come back, but each week is better. Do the McGill Big 3 every single day.

My training split will look like:

• Day 1 – Saturday, Squat and DL: I will rotate intensity and 2-3 assistance movements to finish.
• Day 2 – Monday, Bench: this will be mainly heavy bench with 2-3 assistance movements to finish.
• Day 3 – Wednesday, Squat and DL assistance: mainly GHR, shrugs and other exercises to bring up needed areas. About 6-7 movements. I will really be hammering my upper back and hams.
• Day 4 – Thursday, Fluff and buff: McGill Big 3, push-ups, bench, dips etc., mainly bench work in a fast face with lighter weights.
I think it is very important to lead by example, and do what I’ve suggested others to do in recent times. I remember one of my favorite baseball coaches would tell me on the field “lead by example and not by the mouth”.

This has stayed with me for years and I have to be reminded of this every once in a while. I do tend to suggest things that seem good for others, but have a hard time applying certain things to myself even if I know I have to. This is something that I still work on and I am working on.

This is the reason why I took the time to write this article; not only to lead by example, but to be accountable to those who I’m close to.

I am putting it all out there.

What’s the absolute worst that can happen by going down a weight class? Get healthier, lift in a lower class that I didn’t quite hit the numbers I wanted. Maybe I will become a bit weaker, but feel much better day today. I will increase my quality of life, and most likely the length of it.

The funny part is that we are extreme in how we approach this sport.

Those of us who complete regularly, chase records, break records and have been in this game for a long time know the deal. When it is all over with, we still have a life to live. Actually, no, we have a life to live while we are lifting. We have kids, a wife, a husband, a family, a career, bills and other things to worry about.

I want to be around to enjoy life as long as I can. I want to keep powerlifting a big part of my life without it being my whole life.

I want to set records, help people get stronger, enjoy time with my wife, coach my athletes and lifters and continue to lead by example in the best way I know how; with my actions.

I challenge you here and now.

If you want to make a change to being healthier, stronger, better and smarter about your lifting in the grand scheme of life; it is never too late to change it. You can live a healthier life and enjoy this sport. You can be strong without feeling like you want to pass out after walking a flight of steps. You can learn lessons from others along the way and apply them to your life.

The choice is yours.

I made my choice, see you all at 242.

Lifting at 242 with Tom Bodenbender, Clint Smith, Mike Schwanke and Adam Driggers in February of 2008


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Brian Carroll

Owner and Founder at PowerRackStrength.com
Brian Carroll is committed to helping people overcome back pain and optimizing lifts and movement. After years of suffering, he met back specialist Prof. McGill in 2013, which led to a life-changing transformation. In 2017, they co-authored the best-selling book "Gift of Injury." On October 3, 2020, Carroll made history in powerlifting by squatting 1306 lbs, becoming the first person to break this record. He retired with a secure legacy and a life free from back pain.
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