Client Spotlight Success Story: Sandy Tepper

By Sandy Tepper/Friends of PRS

“The saddest thing in life is wasted talent” – A Bronx Tale. These words have been stuck in my head for over ten years. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve accomplished a lot of good things in the  sport of powerlifting and am proud of them, but I’ve never been able to get to that next level, where I knew in my heart that I belonged. At the XPC Finals at the Arnold in March 2017, I totaled 1875 at 181 by way of a 740lb squat, 535lb bench, and 600 deadlift. This was my first meet at 181, and I didn’t cut for it. For 6 years, I competed at 165, and I had enough of the cut. So, I figured I’d just walk in and be at my strongest. This did not go as expected, as I went 5/9. I hit a whopping 15lb PR from my last meet at 165. Don’t get me wrong, a PR is a PR, and I was happy to do that on one of the biggest stages in powerlifting, but, I still felt like I was wasting my talent.

Over the next 3 months I spent a lot of time focusing on putting on size and muscle to fill out the 181 class. My goal this time was to make an 8-10lb cut to 181. For the most part, I have done my own training over the last several years. When it got time to start thinking about meet prep, I knew that Jonathan Byrd had a lot of success in coaching several athletes using 10/20/Life principals to big totals. In talking with Byrd, we discussed potential weaknesses, proper warmups, and managing fatigue. When I work with someone, I give them full reign. I will not deviate from their plan, and put my trust entirely into what they come up with.

We stayed true to the 10/20/Life principles of deloading, performing the lifts with speed and precision, not missing a lift and focusing on weak points. This ensured a successful and well executed meet prep, which went incredibly well.  Sticking to the 10/20/Life principal we pushed really hard for two weeks, followed by a one week deload.

The first thing I noticed about the plan Byrd set out was that we weren’t pushing deadlifts at all, but were focused on the weak points surrounding the lift, as well as speed. Little did I know how effective this would be come meet day. I would have to say that this submaximal deadlift work was probably the most significant difference from my training prior. The heaviest deadlift we took in training was 630. Not only did this keep me fresh, but kept me from getting beat up. I’ve never felt stronger, or healthier going into a meet than I did during this cycle. Utilizing a deload is the key managing fatigue.

The second thing I noticed was how much of an emphasis Byrd put on triceps work. Obviously, being a multi-ply lifter triceps strength for the lockout during the bench is extremely important. We handled 600+ multiple times to a 1 or a 2 board during training to prepare for a mid to high 500lb bench.

The third thing that I noticed was that the plan for squats was simple, yet effective. Way too many people over think things, and I was a big culprit of that myself. You don’t get extra credit for overtraining in the gym.

I competed at the RPS Supreme Iron Warrior meet in Newark, NJ on September 17. The weight cut went extremely well, cutting from 190 to 180.0, and rehydrating up to 194. I utilized Brian Carroll’s weight cutting book, Cutting Weight: The Ultimate Guide to Making Weight for Powerlifting and Other Weight Class Sports, which was very effective. This was probably the smoothest cut and refeed that I’ve ever experienced. I think the key to this was patience, as in the past I’ve gradually lost weight throughout the week, instead of a quick drop, only hitting the low point for a short period of time.

Here is how the meet went:

Warm-ups felt a little off, but the speed was good, and I felt strong. I was passing out a little bit, so slammed some magnesium and potassium. Here’s how squats went:

735: Fast and easy, I also stayed awake. This was a huge confidence builder, as I’ve missed my opener squat in my last 3 meets.

775: Fast and a 35lb pr.

800: There was only one place to go from my second, and that was for one of my biggest goals since I started powerlifting. Speed was still there, and it was a good lift with 2-1 white lights.

I probably had about 830 in me, but we had a plan. I can’t remember the last time I went 3/3 in squats. Probably 10 years ago. I felt good, and because none of the lifts were that taxing, I knew that I would keep the momentum going. Dave Kirschen, who was my main competition, also squatted 800.

Bench warmups started pretty quickly after squats, as there were only about 25 lifters and 2 flights. Warmups went well, and we were back on the platform:

535: Good lift

560: Good lift and a 25lb PR, but felt some popping in my collar bone so we played it safe and stopped there.

Dave benched 620, so I was 60lbs behind going into deadlifts.

Deadlift warmups are always fun because they go so quickly. I skipped some jumps in warmups to stay fresh, as the meet was flying.

605: Good lift

640: Good lift, 5lb PR, and my first 2000 total

670: Good lift, my easiest deadlift of the day, a 35lb PR, and a 2030 total.

2030 is a 155lb total PR. It was a perfect 8/8 day. This gave me the win over Dave, but also gave me the 20th best total at 181 all-time. This has been my goal since I stepped on the platform in 2003.

The plan that Byrd laid out was perfect. From training to meet day, we executed that plan to a T. Finally, I felt like I had put everything together, and was no longer wasting my talent with sub-par training and meet day execution.

Want more info on how to earn a huge PR total like Sandy? Pick up a copy of the 2nd Edition of 10/20/Life and Brian Carroll’s Cutting Weight: The Ultimate Guide to Making Weight for Powerlifting and Other Weight Class Sports now available for Kindle.

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