Category Archives: inspiration

This is my last post on this site…….I’ve moved!

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Thanks for following.

Joe “Ironman” Norman



2012 APF Single-Ply Nationals

Yesterday’s meet day started out like every other meet day. I got to the meet early, set my stuff down, got my rack height and went back to the warm-up area and rested. I was in the second flight so I was able to get a good 45+ minutes rest before I needed to get warmed up.

I planned on opening with 959 lbs. so I planned my warm-ups as follows:

Bar x 5
Bar x 5
145 lbs. x 3
145 lbs. x 3
235 lbs. x 3
465 lbs. x 1 – Start briefs
665 lbs. x 1
845 lbs. x 1 – Start suit

Everything was going well, until the last warm-up. On the way up the injury I suffered a few weeks ago in my right arm reoccurred. I felt something pop in my elbow join with shooting pain going down my forearm and up my bicep. Pissed off and discouraged, I was going to drop my opener, but my handlers convinced me that I should stick to my plan, deal with the pain and stay with the opener. I agreed and figured that we could re-access the situation after I opened. Here’s the video of my opener. I don’t have any more videos because I told my wife to forget about filming, that it was going to be a bad day.

As you can see by the video, I had absolutely no speed out of the hole that I usually have. I was so worried about my arm that I couldn’t concentrate on squatting. My plan for the competition was to open with 959 lbs. then go straight to 1,060 lbs. to try and get the all-time highest single-ply squat. After that opener, my handlers and I decided that it was best to take more of a conservative jump, so I went to 1,019 lbs. On my second attempt, I set up with the bar a little higher on my back to try and help the arm out a little, but as I descended, my arm just couldn’t keep the weight in place and it dropped a little on my right side. This caused it to shift and threw me off balance a little. I tried to compensate but when 1,000+ lbs. starts to move one way, 255 lbs. of muscle and bone just isn’t going to stop it, so I shook my head for the spotters to grab it. I passed on my third attempt.

959 lbs. – Good
1,019 lbs. – Miss

At this time, I was ready to throw in the towel. I was pissed off and my arm was hurting.  As I sat there with a frozen bottle of water on my arm, we had to come up with a new plan for the rest of the competition. My plan was to take a token bench and deadlift and call it a day, but my handlers had much more in mind. They knew how much I trained for the meet and that even with the injury I could possibly put a nice total together.

The plan we came up with for the bench was this. Ice the arm as long as I could before the bench started. Warm-up raw and find a relatively easy raw opener, then put on one of my larger shirts so it would not be so hard to touch and see what weight I could push up within the pain limits of the arm.

The Bench went like this:

Bar x 5
Bar x 5
135 lbs. x 3
225 lbs. x 1
315 lbs. x 1
405 lbs. x 1 – Start shirt
455 lbs. x 1
495 lbs. x 1

315 lbs. – Good (Raw)
551 lbs. – Good
600.7 lbs. – Good

On my last warm-up I was able to bring the bar within a one board to my chest so we decided that another 50 lbs. would make it touch, that’s why we went to 551 on the second attempt. The opener went easily. On my second attempt I was able to touch pretty well and push it up pretty hard. I left my belt unbuckled so the shirt could ride up and make it easy to touch. The only issue I had was at the lockout. When I bench, I get a good blast off my chest making my press more of a “throw up and catch” style. The bar comes up fast and I have to kind-of catch it at the top when it gets to lockout. This causes the bar to drop down hard on the arms at lockout.  I felt another pop in my arm again as I caught the weight and it took everything to not let the arm drop. It may have actually dropped a little but it wasn’t enough for the judges to red light me. At that time I was ready to pass my third, but my handler again said it looked like I had another 50 lbs. or so left in that arm so he convinced me to keep going. For my third attempt I decided that I needed to slow the weight down and not pop so hard of my chest, horse it up in a way, so I wouldn’t have the lockout hit. We readjusted the shirt and rolled the sleeves up as high as we could to get the sleeve pressure off the elbow joint. I also buckled my belt this time to keep the shirt from riding up. This time it took longer to touch but I was able to push it up slower and locked out slower. My lockout wasn’t the prettiest thing but I was able to get two white lights.

My plans for the deadlift were to open with 622.7 lbs. then try and push it over 700+ lbs. With the arm we had to change those plans as well. My handlers and I figured we would let me warm-up and see what the arm could take, then figure out an easy opener. We also decided that I needed to switch my grip. I normally deadlift with my right hand under and left hand over the bar; if I were to try and pull with the injured arm under, it would have hurt it even more.

Here’s how the deadlift went.

225 lbs. x 1
225 lbs. x 1
315 lbs. x 1
425 lbs. x 1
515 lbs. x 1
565 lbs. x 1

600.7 lbs. – Good (Lowered form 622.7)
650.2 lbs. – Good
705.2 lbs. – Missed

The overhand grip with the injured arm didn’t affect the deadlift very much at all. I was able to hold the bar without pain. The only issue I was having was switching my grip. When you train and compete for thirteen years one way and in switch something, it is just awkward to say the least. The first two attempts came up pretty easily but on the last attempt I floated the weight out in front of me and just couldn’t get it back in position.

Despite all the madness of the day, I ended up with a 2,209.9 total, my third highest personal total in single-ply gear, so I can’t complain. Also, going in to this meet I was under the belief that there was a $500 cash prize for winning your weight class. To my surprise, they did not give out money for winning your weight class, only the best lifters in the raw and single-ply division got cash prizes, $1,000 for each. My total was enough to win my class and take best lifter in the single-ply division. So I got to come home with $1,000 in my pocket. I owe it all my handlers for keeping me from quitting, for pushing me throughout the day and for coming up with back-up plans for the bench and deadlift.

I guess if there is any moral to this story it would be:  Don’t give up, don’t quit! You will be surprised what you are capable of when you fight through adversity and misfortune.

I spent 13 weeks training for this meet, got injured two week before it, re-injured on warm-ups, but with the help of my friends I was able to make a bad day into a good day. I may have not hit the goals I set out for but the day turned out well considering the situation.

P.S. I bought everone dinner for helpign me so much.



Comments and questions are always welcome.

Competition Training Oversights

It’s less than a week to go before competition. All the heavy lifting is complete but training for the meet is far from over. There are still two important aspects of competition training that often get overlooked and are just as important as actually lifting weights. Those are Rest and Inspiration.

Most lifters, including myself, get so caught up in training, that they forget they have been beating their bodies up for weeks. The natural momentum leading into a meet gets you all pumped and excited that you just want to keep it going.  Most people also get it in their heads that they will lose all the gains they made if they stop to rest.  This is just not true. In fact, you will probably make some last minute gains, if you do stop and rest the week before the competition. An old training partner used to tell me. “The work is done. You aren’t going to get any stronger in one week, so rest.”

Inspiration can come in many forms. Music, movies, photos…. The week before a competition, I like to watch certain movies that get me pumped for the meet; Rocky (1976) and Rocky Balboa (2006), to name a few. I also like to watch my own training and competition videos. Watching myself hit some personal record lifts, not only get me in the proper state of mind for the meet but boost my confidence and ensures me that I can go to the meet and accomplish any goal I set for myself.

Get your rest and find your inspiration the week leading into competition. When meet day comes, you will find yourself physically and mental ready to accomplish anything.




Comments and questions are always welcome.

What’s Your Perspective

I will be posting last night’s training log and videos later tonight, but I thought I would share this quick story.

Last night was my last heavy squat day before my up-coming meet. As I was getting ready for my second to last heavy set, one of my lifting partner’s children came out to the gym.

Looking at the bar, she said “Why’s the bar bending so much?”

My partner turned to her and said, “Honey, there’s a lot of weight on there.”

I didn’t think much of this until I was driving to work this morning. It’s a funny thing being a competitive powerlifter. We sometime forget that our perspective or what may seem perfectly normal to us, like a bar bending under a half ton of weight, is in fact not normal at all. And even beyond that, we get under the bar to squat it.



Comments and questions are always welcome.