Lab Rat – The Arnold! Video Included

The Arnold, where do I begin? What a hell of a ride!

Brian, Ria, Byrd, Filipe and I caught the same flight out of Jacksonville Wednesday morning. The idea was to have an extra day to settle in and adjust. We made our way to hotel, checked in then b-lined to the nearest restaurant. The wrap and bottle of water from the Jacksonville Airport wasn’t coming close to holding me over. The rest of Wednesday was boring and lazy.

Since I wasn’t doing a serious weight cut and get a little stir crazy sitting around I rode shotgun with Filipe to weigh in’s. While I was there I figured it best to check my weight on the meet scale vs. our personal scales. 8:45am (after breakfast) – 245.9 in sweat pants, shoes and a t-shirt. To save you from the boring details I ate a couple meals Thursday, the last one being around 5. Cut off water around 11 weighing mid 243’s.


Byrd and I left the hotel around 8 for my weigh in. Stepped on the scale and the lady called out 236.6 WTH!! Needless to say when I informed Brian of this great news he was less than thrilled. Downed a bottle of pedialyte immediately then headed to Waffle House; from there I went back to the expo to hang with the team for a little. Throughout the day I consumed enough Reece’s to kill the average man, a couple meals from BJ’s Brew House, Oreo’s, Pei Wei, McDonald’s, Pop Tarts, etc. Of course I always had pedialyte or Gatorade in my hand. Ended up going to bed at a half decent time –

But got ZERO sleep. To be honest, I’d be lucky if I logged an hour. Adam and I left the hotel around 6:20 to grab breakfast then made our way to expo. Shortly after our arrival Keith, Tony and Filipe arrived to assist Adam in keeping my head on straight. Warm ups below:

  • Bar – 2 x 8
  • 135 – 2 x 5
  • 225 x 3
  • 315 x 2
  • 405 x 2
  • 495 x 1 (light wrap)

My last warmup didn’t move like I was expecting so I shook it off and moved closer to the platform for opening attempt. Keith and Tony took care of wrapping my knees and I got under 550. Good lift, 3 white’s. I’ve hit this squat in training several times and expected it to move much easier. Instead of making the jump I had in mind we called for second attempt at 570. Second and third attempts were missed, legs just weren’t there. Onto the bench and hopefully a PR!

After a short period of relaxing and talking with everyone it was time to start getting warm for the bench. Capsaicin on the shoulders and elbows, light rotator work then under an empty bar. As soon as I started trying to set my feet I knew I was in trouble. My lower back was so damn tight I couldn’t get my feet flat on the floor without a lot of discomfort. There was NO way I was going to get a good bench in without leg drive. My lighter warmup sets (bar, 135) were done without using my proper setup. Between sets I worked on getting the tweaks in my lower back worked out. Once 225 was loaded my feet were flat and my back was feeling much better. As warmups progressed so did the health of my back.

  •  Bar – 3 x 8
  • 135 – 2 x 5
  • 225 x 3
  • 275 x 2
  • 315 x 1
  • 365 x 1


Opening attempt was 405, good lift. The rack height was a little low and I just rolled with it. I assumed I could adjust for it but that wasn’t the case, ended up hitting a little high on my chest and didn’t grove it right. That’s why you select an opener that you can do even if you screw up, right? Second attempt was also a good lift at 425, this time with a much better groove however it slowed down in the 2-3board range. We called my third attempt at 435 (5lb PR) which ended with no lift. It was a damn good fight but in the end I stalled around a 3board and stayed there.

By this time the rest of the team lifting in the afternoon session had arrived, Team Power Rack Strength and 10/20/Life were everywhere. To think, this is just the beginning. Deadlift warmups felt really good, shocking considering how my back felt not much earlier. Adam gave me some great advice about only pulling what I needed to pull and saving as much as possible for the platform. Warmups below:

  • 225 – 2 x 2
  • 315 x 2
  • 405 x 1
  • 455 x 1

I stepped onto the platform for my opening lift of 535, set up and pulled it with ease. Good lift, the head judge gave me a warning about setting the bar down easy though. 575 was called for the second attempt. Once everything was properly set the pull commenced, stopped at my knees, then locked it out. Good lift. My teammates called for a third attempt of 585, the smart choice. Knowing I wasn’t in a position for a PR total I had them change it to 605 for a PR deadlift. That didn’t happen.

The meet didn’t go quite like I was hoping however it was an experience of a lifetime. I’ve got a hunger to get back on the platform and put up the total I know I’m capable of. There were numerous takeaways, lessons learned and friendships created during my stay in Columbus.  I can’t thank Team Samson, Team Power Rack Strength and 10/20/Life enough for getting me to the Arnold and supporting me while I was there. It’s an honor to be a member of these teams. Until next year!!

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Jason Kowalewski

Jason Kowalewski is an up and coming raw powerlifter residing in Jacksonville, Florida where he trains with Team Samson. In his younger years he was a “gear head” who built his first drag car before obtaining a driver’s license. Within the last 6 years his primary focus has shifted from motorsports to powerlifting. Jason began training under Brian’s tutelage in February 2013. He was actually one of the initial test subjects, hence the name Lab Rat. Since then he has seen significant improvements on all lifts with his commitment to Brian and the 10/20/Life methodology. To date his best total is 1653.4lbs via 633.8lb squat, 435.4lb bench and 584.9lb deadlift at 242lbs.

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