Danny Vega – Meet write up?

Technically I had a meet this weekend. I say technically because I only really made two squat attempts (the third doesn’t count because I didn’t finish conscious). Before I get into that, let me give some background.

Going into this meet, I would say I had a pretty good training cycle. I had made good decisions and taken care of myself until about 5 weeks out when I decided to do the Samson Games, an unsanctioned strongmanish/crossfittish/powerliftingish competition that I had no business doing. Don’t get me wrong—it is a great event and I encourage others to do it in the coming years as it grows—but I shouldn’t have done it. It wasn’t in line with my goals. It did hurt my recovery a bit in the weeks after. That, and the fact that I decided to make a 15 lb cut twice within 5 weeks, hurt me. Second, we are in the process of building a house and that has added a lot of stress on top of the regular job/marriage/parent stuff I deal with. In times like this, I have to prioritize. My brain just works that way. This was the least engaged I have ever been going into a meet. I even fell off with my log posts, and I never do that. My goal was to fake it through the meet and hope for the best. That doesn’t happen once you get past a certain level in this sport. No excuses, this is just what I have been going through.

All that said, I had hit my openers and was looking to see a nice PR in the squat and modest PR in the deadlift. Bench has been stuck so I was going to go really conservative and tie my PR.  Warm ups felt good until the end when my left knee (the one that always flares up) started to bother me. It doesn’t really hurt much once the wraps are on, though. I smoked my first attempt of 605 and called for my second at 645. There was no doubt in my mind I would hit it. I had hit it in training and this was meet day. I always show up on meet day. Well, I sunk it, came up and at the top I was a bit wobbly before they helped me walk it back in. Not sure what the exact call was, but it was either not fully locked out knees or just not showing control at the top. This was the first time the dizziness hit me. I just told myself I have to hit this on the third and just to power through the knee pain, which at this point SUCKED. Third attempt, halfway up, I lost consciousness and dumped the bar. I had some really good spotters that made sure nothing happened to me as I dumped it. At that point I had grown an extra knee cap and it was hard and shooting pain if I tried to bend it at all. As the bench was drawing closer, I lied down on a bench and manually bent my knee, but couldn’t put pressure on my heel so I decided this just wasn’t my day. That’s really the end of it. I was relieved to be done and stayed to help my friends and training partners finish their meet.

One thing I am really grateful for is the judge who noticed what I am sure is the culprit of this knee pain. He said every time I walked out my squats, I took an extra little step back with my right foot which would cause me to squat staggered, and put a lot of torque on my left knee. He told my training partner to tell me if I keep doing that I am gonna wreck my knee. He had no idea that was actually happening already. If I had done it all three attempts, I was doing it in training, he said. There is an easy fix to that and I will get into it at the end. Bottom line, I have not missed a squat in training or at a meet since my third attempt at my first meet in JUNE 2013! That is unheard of. I had made constant progress in all of my meets. Everyone is due for a bad meet every now and then. You just don’t ever know when it is gonna come. My day happened to be Saturday. Failure can be good, though. THIS IS HOW WE LEARN.

I really am okay with this. I do feel badly about wasting a training cycle but I just put it behind me and am looking to the future. I have an ortho appointment this Friday to make sure nothing is seriously wrong with my knee. If after the appointment and MRI nothing is wrong, I will slowly bring squats back in as I start this off season. I have a lot of goals and plans this next off season. Most of them had been decided before this weekend, but there are some new ones in light of the squat issues. I will go into more detail in my next post, but here is the plan:

  • No meets until May of next year. I need a long off season to give my bench the attention it needs. I will do a two month cycle during the holidays that will be mostly to build my triceps and upper body into that of a big bencher. During this time period I will also be increasing calories substantially, as I transition to a true 242lb powerlifter. Everything about this paragraph sounds fun to me.
  • From there, I will transition to a true off season block where I will continue to work on my weaknesses and get comfortable in the monolift. Yes, I am going to the monolift. I am really excited about this too, since I won’t have to worry about fixing my walk out. At this point, if I want to continue to stay healthy in my hobby sport, monolift is the only option. Again, this sounds awesome.
  • From there, I will go into meet prep mode and I will definitely be ready mentally and physically to shatter all my old PRs at the next Redemption meet in Fort Myers.

That is the plan in a nutshell. Brian has sent me some diet guidelines to make sure I shy away from being a bodybuilder and become an actual powerlifter. It isn’t far off from what I had planned, but there are some differences. I need to grow thicker to handle heavier weights, especially in the trunk for my squat. This will be the longest off season I have ever done and I am totally looking forward to it. That’s all I got.

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Danny Vega

Danny Vega is a 220lb raw powerlifter with meet bests of 640 squat in wraps (610 raw), 400 bench, and 700 deadlift. A native of Miami, Florida, Vega received his bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 2004, where he was a member of the football team and a three-time Dean’s List recipient. Vega earned his masters of science in human performance from the University of Florida, where he worked with the national championship men’s basketball team along with women’s basketball, tennis, and golf programs. He then went on to become the Strength & Conditioning coordinator for VCU basketball. The Rams were 2007 conference champions and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament.
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