If you’re a regular reader, or even semi-regular reader, of BarBend, then there’s a good chance you’ve read at least one of my articles. My name is Roger Lockridge. I’ve written over 1,000 articles as a BarBend contributor since early 2019. I’ve covered numerous strength sports events and documented countless world records and several world championships.
Long before my career as a sports writer, I had a passion for training and self-improvement. I’ve been lifting weights for almost 25 years, beginning my journey as a classic “hard-gainer” who wanted to get bigger and stronger. One of my “bucket list” items was to compete in a competitive powerlifting meet. However, I’ve dealt with several knee and back injuries, among other health issues, that sidelined that goal. That is, until 2023.
After a lot of consideration and conversations with my family, I finally committed to accomplishing the goal I’ve had since my teenage years. At 42 years old, I attended a powerlifting meet, not as a writer or reporter, but as a competitor for the first time.
I was a participant in the 2023 World Raw Powerlifting Federation (WRPF) West Virginia Legacy Fall Open meet in Martinsburg, WV, on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023. This wasn’t a large meet, but it was in my home state, and I wanted to contribute to a federation that supports strength sports in West Virginia.
My goal was to lift a total of 1,000 pounds. The numbers you’re about to read aren’t impressive if you didn’t know about my past health issues, specifically with my legs and back. However, I went through with the meet, honoring my commitment. The numbers for my powerlifting debut are below:
2023 WRPF West Virginia Legacy Fall Open Results — Roger Lockridge | 125KG, Raw Masters
Those were not the numbers I had in mind for my competitive debut. I have always been better at the bench press than the squat or deadlift. I hoped for better numbers than what I achieved. Below is a behind-the-scenes look at my prep and what happened on competition day:
My prep lasted approximately eight weeks. I train alone at home in my barn. Outside of an occasional training partner, I prepped for this meet on my own — no coach, no outside guidance; just a camera to monitor form, and my wife to make the calls as if she were an official.
Since I didn’t have a spotter for squats, I was conservative with my numbers during prep. The most I squatted for a single was 158.7 kilograms (350 pounds). My goal was to lift 365 pounds at the meet.
Since my bench press was reasonably powerful in training, I hoped to lift at least 330 pounds on competition day. That meant I’d only need to pull 138.3 kilograms (305 pounds) in the deadlift to reach my 1,000-pound goal.
I’ve pulled as much as 154.5 kilograms (340 pounds) in training. Again, these were my minimal goals. I figured the energy in the room would provide the adrenaline rush to perhaps lock out even more.
Seven weeks into my prep, I felt great. Then, my family had pizza for dinner one evening, and things went sideways. The following morning, I was ill. I will spare the details, but it wasn’t good.
I didn’t train that week. I didn’t want to risk injury while feeling sick. I was in bed as much as possible in the run-up to the competition. The day before the meet, I felt well enough to compete. In the four hours of travel, I drank fluids but didn’t eat.
My body held everything I gave it, so I weighed in at 121 kilograms (265 pounds) — a little more than I wanted, but at least I could compete. I ate a decent meal and tried to sleep as much as I could in the hotel the night before the big day. I hoped to eat a solid breakfast on competition morning, but that didn’t work out; a protein bar, a cup of Greek yogurt, a banana, and an energy drink were all I could stomach.
There were seven lifters at the meet; I was the lone athlete in the 125-kilogram Raw Masters category. Here’s the crazy thing about powerlifting: even though I was the only person in my group, that didn’t mean I automatically won.
I’d still have lost if I missed my three attempts on any lift, as I would not have successfully posted a total. I took the lowest numbers I could to ensure I scored at least one lift in all three disciplines.
I opened with a 125-kilogram (275-pound) squat. I told myself to descend into the hole as far as I could because I did not want the judge to call for depth. I went through my range of motion and was met with three white lights — the first checkpoint made, I’m now a competitive powerlifter.
I went up to 142.5 kilograms (314 pounds) for my second attempt and received all white lights again. My final squat was a successful 147.5-kilogram attempt.
Next up was the bench press. By this point, I felt strong until I finished warming up. Suddenly, it felt as though my energy was drained. When I got to the platform for my first attempt of 145 kilograms, the pause at the bottom felt like a millennium until I was given the command to press. I barely locked it out, but three white lights met my eyes.
I took 150 kilograms (330 pounds) next. The weight stuck halfway up, and I failed the lift. At that moment, I knew for sure that I was a competitive powerlifter — it was humbling to receive red lights for the first time.
I waived my third bench press attempt. I knew I wouldn’t convert it. Looking back, I wish I’d taken it anyway. My time on the platform could’ve given the other competitors more rest time to prepare for their lifts. Since I waived mine, that was one less minute for them. I won’t make that mistake in the future.
Finally, there was the deadlift. I opened with 145 kilograms, and the barbell shot right up. Somehow, I got a second wind. I remained conservative with 150 kilograms for my second attempt, but it felt easier than my first.
My wife and I did some quick math — I needed to pull at least 355 kilograms to score my goal of a 1,000-pound total. Since the weights were in kilograms, I had to take 162.5 kilograms (358.3 pounds) on my final attempt.
There was a brief pause between attempts. During that interim, promoter Robbie von Schlag asked me about my day. I told him about my position, and he responded, “I guess you’re going to try 358, then?” I confidently stated, “No, I’m going to get 358.”
That boon of confidence was earnest. The barbell was loaded with 162.5 kilograms (358.3 pounds). Robbie von Schlag nodded in approval, and my spotter was ready for my last attempt. I stepped up to the bar, felt the knurling in my hands, and ascended to my 1,003.2-pound total.
I ended the day as the Men’s Masters 40-44, 125-kilogram Raw champion. I may have been the only entrant, but I didn’t bomb out (colloquial phrase for failing to post a total). After the four-hour drive home, I got a good night’s sleep, knowing that would not be my last competitive meet.
If you’re a future competitive powerlifter, Masters or otherwise, keep these tips in mind for the best experience possible:
Don’t treat yourself with unplanned food until the meet is over.
There’s a good chance I wouldn’t have gotten sick if I’d stuck with my nutrition plan.
Plan the day before the meet and the morning of the meet with precision.
Simple things may have affected my performance, including my lack of calories that morning. I may have left pounds on the platform. I don’t intend to let that happen next time.
Set ambitious goals.
I lifted more on my final deadlift than I likely would have had I not had a target total in mind. Striving for something is important.
Don’t forget to have fun.
Powerlifting is a strength sport where the athletes cheer each other on, even when competing against each other. Everyone wants to have a good time. Allow yourself to be a part of that experience.
Many thanks to Robbie von Schlag, everyone at Legacy Powerlifting, and the volunteers and judges at the meet. Congratulations to the other athletes. It was a great time — I expect to cross paths with all of you again soon.
Featured image: @rocklockridge on Instagram
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