For those of you who don't know me already, I'm Rick Jones – CEO of Olympus Health Supplements, and the big, bearded, tattooed guy to the far left (or is it right, if you aren't in it?) of this picture:
The picture was taken at the GPC-GB Powerlifting Southern Qualifiers, held at Genesis Gym (Bulldog Powerlifting) in Wembley last weekend (19th of May 2017). It features Team Jersey Powerlifting: Left to Right; Dan Reis (of DNA fitness online), Will Hall, Ross 'Cubey' Kenwright, Danny Blandin and me, Rick Jones.
In case you didn't know already, Olympus Health is based in Jersey, Channel Islands... we're closer to France than the UK mainland, but our little Island home is a crown dependency and to all intents and purposes the Southernmost part of the British Isles.
So, in late 2016 when a few other lads from Jersey decided that training to lift big in the gym wasn't enough – and it was time to pit our results against some mainlanders (a 'bigger pond' for us as 'little fishes') – we began looking into when, where and what we could do to make it happen.
If you follow this blog already (and if you do, apologies for the sporadic updates of late), you might already know that my own training was always based around strength goals. I'd been an avid fan of Strongman when I was growing up, and remain so to this day.
However, the biggest mentor (literally) I've had in my lifetime of training was undoubtedly one Peter 'Big Pete' Tregloan, who I was lucky enough to train with whilst he was in Jersey during the late 90's and early 2000's. Although Peter had dabbled in Strongman (after being a national Judo champion) – and had beaten some very well known opponents in the process – his main successes, wins and world records had all come about in the sport of Powerlifting.
Image by Russ Allchin: training with Peter Tregloan, Fort Regent, Jersey 1998 – 400kg squat
Powerlifting – especially the 'raw' style of powerlifting that us Jersey-based lads have chosen as 'our sport' – has to be the ultimate test of brute strength.
It consists of 3 attempts at 3 single 1-rep-max style lifts in 3 disciplines: the barbell squat, followed by the bench press, followed by the deadlift.
At the end, the total amount of kilograms lifted on your best attempt at each lift are added, and the highest total wins (overall, as well as by weight class and age classes).
You don't need the lifts to be pretty, but you do need them to come inside the rules of what the federation you choose to compete in determine to be a technically 'good lift'.
This adds a little bit of difficulty, and many big 'gym lifters' are often surprised to find that until they begin to train for specific powerlifting-style lifts their biggest bench presses and squats often won't pass muster in a proper powerlifting competition. In part.3 (coming later) of this write-up, you'll see that this actually happened to me, despite my years of instruction from a World Champion powerlifter!
Back to the story:
Encouraged by top local PT, strength coach and good friend Dan Reis, it was decided that at 40 years old, I should join him and the other lads who had already decided to enter the aforementioned GPC-GB Southern Qualifier.
At the time of decision, the competition was to be held in Maidenhead Centre, Kent. We duly paid our entry and membership fees, filled out our online forms and booked flights, then found a hotel in Maidenhead ten minutes walk from the venue.
Next began 12 weeks of hard training – working down the rep ranges and up the weights – through 'blocks' of the three lifts as well as 'assistance' exercises that strengthen the muscles and movements which make the lifts move as explosively as possible.
As for the competition, the reason it's called a 'Southern Qualifier' is that it's open to guys and girls from all over the South of Great Britain, and there are minimum totals that you need to achieve or preferably surpass to be able to go on to compete in the British Championships (Class B qualifying totals) or the European and World Championships (Class A qualifying totals).
Class A totals essentially earn you a place on the British Team, representing the country at the Continental and/or World Championships later in the year. That was the dream... to get to the Europeans, if I could.
Here's an example of the weights you needed to lift this year to qualify in the Master's (over 40 years old). Highlighted in red is my own category; 140kgs bodyweight, raw lifting (no supportive bench shirt, squat or deadlift suits):
So that was that.. I needed a total of 735kgs across all 3 lifts to qualify for the Europeans – which was my goal. I decided that I wasn't going there to try and 'beat' anyone else... this was me vs. me in a bid to do the best I could and – maybe, just maybe – qualify for a spot on the GPC-GB team.
However, there was to be a few more roadblocks along the way... though in the end, these 'setbacks' made the experience even better than I could ever have imagined... more about that in part 2!
To end part 1, let me give you an example of the food and supplements I used to get as big (I weighed in at 135.5kgs for the comp) and strong (you'll see in part. 3) as I could, in the run up to the competition.
Here is a typical day's food and supplements:
Wake up to take in 500-750ml of water, with:
Squeeze of half a lime and half a teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt... with this I had:
3 x Olympus 'Elements' multi-vits,
1500iu vit D3,
3 x Olympus Health fish oil caps.
6x joint restore caps (cissus, glucosamine)
Coconut oil in pan – black pepper and tumeric added – wilt spinach and scramble 6 eggs on it. Had with 150g of salmon. Coffee with 5g creatine and heavy cream.
Minced turkey with chilis and tomatoes fried in, eaten with pack of Uncle Ben's chili and lime rice and some asparagus. 500ml gold top milk. 3 x Olympus Health fish oil caps
5g creatine in half sachet of dioralyte kids electrolytes. 500-750ml of water.
Egg noodles in Miso soup base with peppers, mushrooms, spring onions and celery. 220g of diced chicken breast and tablespoon of coconut oil added. Water and 5g creatine in green tea. 500 -750ml water.
60g (2 scoops) Ascent Whey in 500ml gold top milk. 2 x cinnamon and raisin bagels with butter and peanut butter. Water.
20 mins later, grapefruit juice with taurine added.
Skyr yoghurt (half pot) with granola and scoop of Ascent Whey. Apple and handful of grapes.
2 x tesco rump steaks, boiled new potatoes in herb butter, broccoli, carrots. 500-750ml water.
Skyr yoghurt, almond butter. 1 scoop micellar casein protein in milk.
20 minutes later 4 x capsules of Olympus ZMA
Coming up in Part 2: Competition set backs, getting to London, the Mecca of all UK gyms, meeting a powerlifting and youtube legend and the night before the competition!