WPO: Part 5 – Meet day

Sunday, I woke up at 269lb. Right where I wanted to be. I then met Mike and Kieth down in the warm-up room at 7:30 am for the 8 am rules meeting and to also check if the flights were posted. After got a feel for the vibe of the day (they were behind in setting up the stage), I went back to my room to eat a little more, and to touch base with Ria.

After eating, I went back down to the warm-up room and settled in to get a gauge for exactly when I’d need to start getting ready to squat. Kieth and Mike already had our area picked out and settled for us. I felt pretty good, and by this time, the meet was running about an hour behind so I had a feel for when I’d need to start, so I started going through my normal prep routine.

As I’ve already said before the meet and in WPO Part 1, Wayne worked his ass off on setting up, and I believe Wayne 100% made his best effort on this meet. I don’t agree with a few decisions he made, but it’s his meet. Besides the length of the meet and amount of lifters (day far too long), the music playlist was a bit dated, not just because of my taste, but because of relevance to the audience. I think the music should also be for the audience to get them involved, excited and loud — just my opinion.

No lie, I hammered Wayne for 18months about (PLEASE) not having the SAME APF playlist (I even SANG him the songs on the said playlist weekly) as every year since 2004. He would laugh and said it would be different so when I was on deck for my first squat and heard Trapt “Headstrong,” and got to come out to Papa Roach “Scars,” and Evanescence “Bring me to life,” I knew it was going to be a great day.

On a less sarcastic note, Wayne brought together a bunch of lifters who hadn’t ever lifted against each other, or at least not in a while. The roster was, by far the best I’d seen in many years, especially the middleweight, in particular, the 242s — props, Wayne. Probably the best since the 2008 pro-am in Cincinnati where Frey, Hoff, Jordan, Grandick, Panora and myself all battled.

My overview of the 242s:

Chris D – Someone I used to coach for a while, I know him well. Chris Pulled 843 at NOLD like eight years ago out of nowhere. One who has struggled at big meets in the past, but certainly no longer an issue: big squatter, monster pull and a significant threat to everyone.

Minuth – I’ve gotten the better of Matt 2/3 times over the last 3-4 years. I won the Arnold in 15, he in 16, me 17, and I didn’t compete in 18, but he won it. You see the trend: whoever is more-on wins. Matt ended up being much more on this weekend; less his biceps. I love you, Matt. A guy who shows up on meet day and difficult to beat.

Hill – Monster squat and pull, lacks in the bench some due to a shoulder issue, but I didn’t take anyone lightly. Plus I’d helped him with his bench, so another threat.

Anthony O. – Suffers in the bench and pull some, but a firecracker. I envy his passion and drive — another person you can’t take lightly; so I didn’t.

Jinkinson – Bumped me for the #2 total all-time at 242 6 weeks before this meet and figured it would cost him. Lack of significant equipped competition experience/ big meets so could be a factor — massive deadlift.

Benson – Squat record holder, 800lb bencher, pull hurts him. Another threat. Especially if he went 1200 and 8+.Squat Warm-ups

Warm-ups didn’t quite go the way I would have liked; I’m not going to touch the situation beyond this. Thankfully teamPRS teammates Will K and Ben S happened to be there to support (I wasn’t expecting them- thank you!) and lent a much-needed hand to Mike and Kieth.  Also, Brian Hill and his training partner’s/friends helped us out running the mono and setting rack heights, etc.. Thank you so much. I planned to have more help to run the mono, spot, load, etc., but it didn’t work out this way.

In hindsight and my biggest regret of the weekend: I should have done a few things different and had Adam and Blue (people I’ve trained with for 15 years), who helped with the production of the meet, in my corner, instead. I should have been more greedy. Lesson learned.

I wanted this meet to be a huge success, not just for me but for Wayne and the WPO. But, knowing what I know now, I should have been more selfish and fought to keep them both in my corner for the meet day help, support and coaching, instead of them announcing and running the platform. If I would have asked them to help me, instead of encouraging them to help Wayne weeks before the meet, I’m sure they would have obliged. My fault.

Warm-ups felt OK; I have a hard time knowing how I feel after a cut until the weight gets heavy. Sometimes, I don’t know until the second attempt. Here’s what I did after my normal warm-up/priming:





600 with preds

750 LUP plus 4×4’s

850 LUP plus 4×4’s

930 LUP plus 4×4’s

Not bad, not great. Felt kind of flat, so I made a few adjustments and felt ready to squat.

Kieth and Mike did a fantastic job with timing on warm-ups, especially with squats being by far, the most difficult and stressful as it sets the tone for the day.  They timed each warm-up and meet attempt perfectly. Thank you.

The timing of it all is crucial – as you don’t want to be wrapped too long, nor do you want to feel rushed to the bar.

As I posted in part 1, my squat attempts were 1025, 1074, then missed my third tying my 242 PR of 1102 from 2016. I flat out jacked it up, and this made me frustrated as 1074 was one of my best squats I’ve done in a few years, and I had much more.

1074 second was a very safe jump, but we didn’t go over 1020 in training as a few times my shoulder felt a little grumpy from whatever I did to it back in April (now I know a little more – more on this later). 1102 should have gone, and I should have executed. It was over at the start when I got onto my toes.

The strategy was this: hit all 3 of my squats, but lift conservative. It had been a while (nearly two years since a meet), so take what the day offers. We were ready for super strict judging, or not. Either way, we were ready.

Note: Just about everyone had trouble with the rack heights – hell, one lifter took three squat attempts and never got a single one out of the rack for a squat command. Most of us had some problems, including me, especially on my opener. The rack height was too high for about all of us, it seemed. Maybe the platform sank some? I don’t know.

One thing that frustrates me, especially at the bigger meets is when there isn’t matching mono/bench in the back to gauge your exact rack height/set-up on the same machine as on the platform. I think this should be standard for all high caliber meets, but it’s not my call. Warm-up on what you use, to be as prepared as possible, as all models, makes and brands vary a great deal. The rack heights, hook height, the in or out adjustability-width of the hooks, the play of the hooks front to back, etc. Just my opinion, as I think it had an impact on the squat outcome, and the meet for that matter. Just my opinion.

After squats, my body felt fine. Though I missed my third, nothing felt off other than me being pissed about getting on my toes at the start.

We finished at about 1 pm squatting. Over the next 4 hours, I got plenty of food and drink in me and took some time to relax and inventory my body. I had some ultra-sound done on my right hip which was tight, but I did take three squats over 1000lbs, so I always expect some tightness after a while

By around 5 pm, it was time to get started benching. I can tell you that I was a little bit flat. I was in a decent, not great position. I think 2 people out-squatted me in the class, Hill, and Minuth. I had a great bench cycle, so I was hoping to bench 815-832 which would make up some ground.

Bench warm-ups went like this:




SDP on

455 – 5bd

600 – 3bd

At this point, my bloat game was real. I slowed down, and made myself take some BP meds (which I try to avoid) aspirin, and start chugging some water as I could feel my BP rise. Having nasty bloat is a double-edged sword. It’s great for strength, not always good for blood pressure.It’s hard to nail the middle ground. If went out cold a few times at meets during the bench when my BP gets too out of control.

685 – 2bd

This lift felt a little better, less head pressure, but I decided to skip my next one of 725-1bd to let my BP come down as I was getting dizzy. Not the best scenario but the choice we made.

Opener: 749 – This was one that I flat-out mis-grooved. I couldn’t tell where I was at, as far as close to touching and came in high. I felt my shoulder a little bit and had the spotters grab it. I just messed this one up; I was ready now. By the way, the spotting crew did an excellent job. I treated this as the last warm-up and was now prepared.

Second: 749 – I did this one nearly perfect, except all of the stuff that I wrote about in part 1 which is now behind us with my coach & Jeff, plus me clipping the rack. This lift was ultimately turned down for spotter interference and clipping the rack. I think aside my shoulder getting loose at lockout (which lead me to hit the rack) this is the best bench I’ve done in a few years. I couldn’t control the bar after my shoulder tweaked on the way down and pressed it too far back.

As I said, my shoulder (rotator) popped/pulled a few times during this lift, on the way down and I knew another lift, no matter the circumstance could mean a year off of training – it was more than “it hurts.” I know what a small to moderate tear feels like, you can feel and hear it on the inside and outside. And the area, the rotator/lat/subscap wouldn’t like me deadlifting anyway without likely further damage.

I’ve been here before, nearly ten years ago but then it was the front of the shoulder, the labrum. This greed cost me about 6months of rehab, and three years of spinning my wheels on the bench. Honestly, it’s never quite been the same, not my raw bench for sure.

This attempt was a bad choice I made in March of 09. I had a bit of a shoulder issue going on, but let my temper and ego get the better of me. After an opener lift was turned down due to something similar to the 749 above at the WPO, I got pissed and threw caution to the wind on my next attempt and didn’t listen to my body. And I tore my pec and labrum because of it. I learned from this mistake.

Nonetheless, even with what I know now, I will still push “it” in the meet if “it” makes sense to, so I wanted to see what happened and didn’t want to make a decision yet; I watched to see Matt and Chris D. take their next lifts before I made a final decision. Matt earned his second, and Chris D only got his opener bench of 727, I think.

It was a pretty easy conclusion to come to, even before Matt made his second bench, and I’m glad he did. It made me reconsider doing anything that I might regret with was going on in my shoulder and what was nearly a terrible situation on the platform with Kieth (my coach) and Jeff (my friend, the judge), which has been resolved but put me in an odd position at the time.

I pulled my SDP bench shirt off and talked it over with the guys, and they agreed to pass my third, even though I was going to be out of the meet. I knew it was the right decision, and honestly, it wasn’t all that hard. It was 6 pm by this time, and I was entirely over the day. It just wasn’t my day; these days will happen and knew it was time to shut it down.

Matt Minuth at this point was winning pretty big, and all he needed to break the WR we all had been chasing for years was a 677 deadlift. I told him no less than 5x that if he messed it up, I’d never let him live it down. I also may have said some other stuff.

Most probably know this, but Matt tore his biceps off the bone during his opener deadlift and nearly bombed out. I felt terrible, but a little bit of bad luck, 70lb PR squat, 25lb PR bench, a big cut, combined with a long day; stuff like this happens.

Somehow, after missing his first two deads, he pulled 677 on a third. This was incredible, with a torn biceps! Congrats to Matt for going 2702 at 242, breaking the WR that a few of us have been chasing for a long time. I’ve pursued it on and off for the better part of 10 years. The truth is, I’m glad someone broke it, but at the same time didn’t put it too far out of reach like I thought he was about to. Hell, 2800 could have fallen, if he didn’t get hurt with a 777 deadlift.

Chris D pulled a big 850-ish and went 2640 I think at 242, missing a 914 to beat Matt for the Middleweight title and WR total, but it wasn’t there. Huge congrats to Chris after coming back from a nasty pec tear two years ago and having a VERY nice showing. There was a lot of great lifting this day. I didn’t get to see a lot of it, but I caught what I could. Marc Tejero, Heidi Howar, Tom K (fantastic days), Dave Hoff, Sandy Tepper, Kirshen (I think he was on speed), Jo Jordan, and a few others not in my flight all seemingly had good days from what I can remember.

Excellent work by Blue and his crew on keeping everyone safe, and not a single misload the entire day. Awesome work. Adam did an excellent job on the mic all day, and thanks to Wayne and all of the judges for all of their hard work, as it’s not easy making split-second decisions that impact people in a significant way; I get it.

The venue was great, the location was excellent and the weather was perfect.  Plenty of great places to eat within a stone’s toss, and even for Orlando, the traffic wasn’t bad or places to eat too crazy. The lifting roster was thick, and Wayne put his heart and soul into something that he didn’t have to do. For this, I’m appreciative, regardless of how my day went.  Thank you to all of Team Samson the tremendous help over the last 15 years. Kieth and Mike did a stellar job and worked their butts off – thanks for keeping your cool. Thank you, Adam, for letting me train at your facility since September 2003, I will always be grateful.

Thank you to Inzer Advance Designs for your help and support, as you supply me with the most innovative, most durable and advanced gear made! I appreciate you believing in me.

Thank you, Al, with Captain Jacked for all of your help and support over the years. I appreciate you.

Thank you to Mike with Jax Nutrition for backing me for this meet and for supplying the team and me with excellent products.

Thank you TeamPRS for believing in what I’m doing, and for those who came and helped me when I was in a pinch. Thank you, Ben and Will. I know Ben, Will and other’s had a million other places to be but chose to be there. Thank you all for reading and for those who came out to support.

More to come about plans going forward and what’s next, I got my MRI results last week. I have a lot more to add, so stay tuned.

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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.
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