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  • Jesse Irizarry


Updated: Aug 29, 2019





Final week for competition prep, taper week designed to make sure peaking for competition planned for end of this week.


N/A but here’s my competition results instead-

Snatch – 124 kilos

Clean and Jerk -154 kilos

This was the week of my competition…

It would seem that I lost 2.5 kilos from last week but what’s more likely is that the scale I was using to track my weight was reading heavy and I instead probably lost just 1-1.5 kilo from last week. Generally, the week of a competition, the body naturally tends to lose a bit of weight. The natural stress of competing and the lower training volume can cause reduced fluid retention and tip the scale down.

Didn’t hit my mark to be a hefty 109 kilo lifter for this meet, but it was a pretty heavy ask being that I was only 97 kilos when I started training for a competition again. Pun always intended. I gained a pretty solid 4 kilos of body weight staying just as lean. I’ll say that in freedom units because it sounds more impressive – I gained 8.8 pounds. Granted I was gaining weight back that I had lost, which is always easier. Thinking about it now though, I’m pleased that I lifted heavier weight at this competition than my last with less body fat and at a lighter body weight. Small wins.  

I was placed in the 102 kilo weight class after weighing in underweight even after resorting to consuming four weight gainer shakes a day for the last couple of weeks before the meet as a last ditch effort to put on some more weight. In the end, it didn’t really matter and I was more just playing a game with myself to see how much weight I could gain in a short period of time. The weight class you pick after some years competing should be a multi-factor decision. Most people pick one that they believe they can be competitive in hat’s not too far above or below their body’s normal set weight after years of training. The common advice is to say that the taller or longer limbed the athlete is, the more weight should be on their frame. That said, I’ve seen some people completely defy this notion. Some lifters’ muscles are just made of the right stuff and even if it looks like they don’t have much of it, they’re just stupid strong. I’ve seen some very unassuming people lift weights with an unnatural ease. I am not one of these vessels blessed by the thunder gods. If I want to be the strongest possible me, I need to fill out my frame as much as possible. This i what I’ve done for weightlifting in

the past and certainly also for powerlifting (I competed as heavy as 140 kilos/308 pounds).  So if I continue to push this (old for weightlifting) old man body I will need to keep gaining good weight.

Unfortunately this week I don’t have a great lesson to share from Yasha because he wasn’t in the same country as I was the weekend I competed. But what I can share are my own thoughts on competition – for what they’re worth.

I went into this competition with the same attitude as my last meet. And this attitude isn’t what people would identify as overly optimistic. Objectively, I shouldn’t have expected to increase my total from my last competition. The start of my training block was inconsistent even after I started working more formally with Yasha. I was down in body weight, had lost muscle, and was fighting back pestering injuries. My life wasn’t exactly stress free or in perfect order and I won’t comment as to how little I was sleeping and how little time I spent on recovery.

I showed up the day of the competition knowing full well that I had set an unreasonable goal given my physical state leading up to this competition. I had mentally accepted that there was a very high certainty I wouldn’t reach this goal, but that I’d test myself and see how I measured up regardless.

So when people asked me what I was planning to do in the competition, or how I felt, or if I was ready, my response was pretty straightforward and in my mind genuine – I’d do what I can and try not to bomb out. Bombing out was a very real possibility being that I stubbornly and aggressively  set my openers for this competition just one kilo under my heaviest lifts from last competition in both the snatch and clean and jerk. These were still weights I’ve done before and still under my best capability but it would still be a step up from the last shape I was in. I was real about this possibility of failure when people asked about it, and some very well intentioned members of my gym and friends warmly tried to encourage me because they thought I needed it. I smiled and thanked some, but for others I tried to share what I’m about to share in this journal.

I’m certainly not the strongest guy and I’m not even near the top of the strength or athletic spectrum. I’m not competing close to any elite level in olympic weightlifting. But I am a competitor, and a true one. I’ll claim this title because I’ve earned it from coaches who I’ve worked with and mentors who were indeed gifted athletes and lifters. My will to compete, and to do what I must when I compete, is ingrained in me. It partially comes from my stubborn nature and partly out of watching and learning from those who were truly competitive, trying to earn their respect, and internalizing what I saw and felt from them.

I’ve also now had many years experience competing in strength sports and other sports before then. Managing the stresses of competition becomes easier over time. I’ve learned that to keep competing and not burn out over time, you have to become indifferent to the outcome before, during, and even after competition. When you show up to the competition, the work that brings success was either done beforehand or it wasn’t. There’s nothing you can do at that point to make yourself better.  The lifts will be there or they won’t. The strength will be there or it won’t. The ability to do what you want will be there or it won’t. And there’s nothing that can be done at this point to change the outcome. So becoming anxious or upset or mad or sad before, during, or after is just going to weaken your resolve as a competitor. Training should be focused on process and not goals and competition should be focused on the will to act in that moment with whatever is in you rather than outcome.  

I’ve made the comment only half-jokingly that to succeed in weightlifting, or even to keep from quitting, you need to partly  become a monk. Maybe a more accurate way of putting it would be that you need to become stoic in your thoughts and reactions. You can’t get to high with the highs or too low with the lows. Any upward or downward movement in your training can change at any moment. What’s important is to keep a self-created standard to your own effort. You need to be realistic and objective about what this is and sometimes you need others to keep you from being delusional, a mild-mannered Russian coach can help with this.

Keeping myself from being too attached to the result, is what helps me compete. I knew that when I got there, I would do the same thing I always did regardless of how bad I felt leading up to the meet or how not perfect my training cycle was. I would follow through to the end and do what I had to do. I had to make lifts, and I did. I had to move better than I had in the entire training cycle leading up to it, and I did. I wanted to win, and I did. It didn’t really matter to me if I had the feeling of confidence leading up to it or not, when I was there it was time to compete, and that’s what I would do. It was time to go to work, and that’s what I did. Yes, it was an insignificant local meet and I’m not going against the giants of the sport, but I tested myself where I was, and that’s the whole point.

I got to lift alongside my own weightlifters, my friends, and share in their success. I got to have my buddy James Wright, who’s always in my corner, push me as an athlete and guide me. I got to spend the day with beautiful people. What more could I want regardless of outcome? I did the work, that’s enough.

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