Here is a scavenger hunt you can play at your next powerlifting meet.
Mr. Big – It’s toward the end of the bench press. The crowd is not paying attention. Lots of yawns. Some people are talking about what to get for lunch. All of a sudden, here comes MR BIG. He weighs 450 pounds, is juiced to the gills, wearing a triple kevlar bench shirt. Suddenly everyone is on the edge of their seat. Whispers pass through the crowd: “He’s gonna open with 600!” From out of nowhere, there’s a drum roll. A light show. The music gets cranked. A bus of Asian tourists arrive and start taking pictures. Reporters from the local paper show up. And – he does it!!! Fireworks. Cheering. Dramatic loudspeaker announcements. Later, with similar fanfare, he misses 650 twice. The tourists and reporters leave. Everything returns to normal, except the crowd’s mind is blown. A little boy says, “Didja see that dad? He just benched 600 pounds!” Yeah, 1.3 x bodyweight. Wooo. Never mind that some 165er just hit 480. Boorring…
Mrs. Irrelevant – She’s 77 years old and 114 lbs. And she just squatted 65, benched 50, and deadlifted 110. Is that good? Well she set 4 world records. Must be. Everyone makes sure to mention to everyone around them that it is totally inspiring.
Mr. Townie – He’s the baddest mofo at the local gym. He’s 230 lbs of prime beef. Saw this flyer for a powerlifting meet and his friends totally knew he’d be great at it. All the guys here look small or fat or old. He’s confident that his 315 squat will be enough to win the 242 Open class.
Mr. Bomb – Lessee…I squatted 405 the day before yesterday. It was really hard, and I might not have gone down to parallel, and my buddy had to help me a little, and it’s my first meet, and I had to cut 10 lbs to make weight, and I don’t feel good this morning. So I should open with…hmmm…405. Perfect!
Mr. Inappropriate – Wants to play his special song over the speakers during his attempts. The song’s lyrics are about sodomizing corpses. Screams “F—!” after each miss, and “F— Yeah!” after each successful lift, even though there are kids and old ladies in the front row. Between attempts takes off his singlet and walks around in his jock strap. Between rounds has a loud discussion with his buddies about which girl at the meet they most want to bang.
Mr. Longevity – The winner of the 65 yr old raw drug-free 181 lb. division. He squats 200, benches 170, and deadlifts 230. Which is pretty good, until you learn that he’s been lifting the exact same weights for 50 years. All he has to do is outlive everyone else and he’ll finally be impressive.
Mr. Recreational – A middle-aged local guy who enters bench-only, wears bike shorts instead of a singlet, and leaves immediately after pressing 225 on his 3rd attempt – to go jog home and do some situps before his wife has to vacuum the living room.
Mr. Zero – Looks like a monster. Possibly a semi-famous lifter. Wears some sort of futuristic gear made of inch-thick fabric that takes six helpers to cram him into. Can’t get parallel in the squat/touch his chest on bench even with every weight in the warmup room. His assistants rush to squirt him with some liquid from a spray bottle, then help him wobble to the platform like Frankenstein’s monster. Then, on his opener (with about 950 on squat, or 700 on bench) – while everyone’s attention is riveted to him – he fails miserably and almost kills the spotters. Misses his second and third attempts, sometimes with even more weight on the bar. Packs up and storms out, $85 poorer, surrounded by the helpers, who offer various esoteric tips like “You should have had the sides taken in an inch and double-stitched the collar” or “Next time, you gotta pull the weight towards your feet while you’re pressing.”
Mr. Anonymous – Are you the only person at your gym who has a shaved head AND a beard AND tattoos AND a beanie cap? Don’t worry. Welcome to powerlifting. You’ve found your niche.
Ms. Sexy – 123 lbs of singlet-wearing hotness. Today she’ll be bending over, squatting, arching her back and straining in a very alluring manner. Watch out of the corner of your eye when she puts on her backless bench shirt – you’ll totally be able to see her sports bra. Go ahead, approach her. Give her a few pointers. Maybe brag about your lifts. Just watch out for her boyfriend. Yeah, that 308 pounder with the 23 inch arms who isn’t lifting today because he has worlds next week. Uh oh, here he comes!
Miss Jailbait – See above, except replace “123” with “114” and “boyfriend” with “father.”
Mr. Organizer – Wants to run the meet AND lift in it. Because this kind of thing is totally normal in other sports. Like in the NBA, you often see David Stern get out on the floor and play for a quarter or two. Because that’s totally ethical and professional.
Mr. Second – With a decline in overall participation combined with an explosion in the number of different divisions (Men’s, 220, Raw Modern, Lifetime, Police, 50-55, Push/Pull, anyone?), everyone usually takes first place in something. Everyone that is, except for this guy (usually in the 181 or 198 lb Open), who had the gall/misfortune to enter in the exact same division as someone else. No plastic trophy for you, pal.
Mr. Junkie – Looks like an illustration for a “Dangers of Steroids” newspaper article. Vast misshapen muscles. Vast misshapen head. Orange and/or yellow skin and/or eyes. Acne on back. Terrible temper. Sometimes actually seen taking handfuls of suspicious looking pills or even injecting self in locker room. A great spokesman for our sport, especially when entering the “drug-free” division.
Mrs. Junkie – See above, with the addition of facial hair and deep voice. Usually dating/married to/trained by Mr. Junkie.
Mr. Strict – Thinks drugs and equipment are cheating. As well as the following: chalk, squatting with a wide stance, not squatting ass-to-grass, benching with a wide grip, arching of the back, the over-under deadlift grip, and baby powder. Also, apparently: having a four-digit total.
Joe Football – His coach made him come, along with five of his high school teammates. Who he’s horsing around with right now. He would rather be playing video games or out drinking. Quality ranges from the “skill position” type (250/205/340 @ 165) to the “line” type (350/350/350 @ 275) to the “holy %$@# that kid is strong” type (520/410/600 @ 181). Regardless, by tonight, he will be playing video games or out drinking, with zero recollections of ever having been in a powerlifting meet, and will never, in fact, enter one again.
Mr. Cardiac – Late 40s, bench only, 242 or higher weight class, shaped like an apple, the color of an apple, opens with 500+ but is so winded after each attempt that he looks like a boxer in his corner before the 12th round: being fanned with towels, chugging water/gatorade and hyperventilating. Often found near the concession stand.
Mr. Olympia – Hairless body, tanned orange and freakishly vascular. Often sports accessories like Zubaz pants, Gold’s Gym string-top & barbell jewelry. Occasional specimens perform well, but usually manages only to temporarily intimidate rookies during the weigh-in.
Mr. Premature – Drives to the meet with his singlet straps up. Puts chalk on in parking lot. Finishes warmups before rules briefing. Can be found sitting next to platform, vibrating with anticipation, knee wraps already on, rising slightly from his seat with each utterance of the announcer.
Mr. Procrastination – Warmup areas are typically a true testament to human cooperation and the brotherhood of powerlifters. This is in spite of insufficient and/or poor-quality equipment, limited time, and the fact that many of the athletes will be in direct competition with one another in mere minutes. Lifters help each other load & unload plates, spot each other, and patiently take turns. As the round of competition approaches, the weight on the warmup bar increases to nearly what the lifters will open with, often a prodigious load. And here comes Mr. P, looking frantic. He still needs to take his first warmup. See that bar that you’ve loaded up to 545? Well, he needs to do 135. And to lower the rack height. And can you work the monolift for him? Please, hurry!
Mr. Sportsmanship – Loudly excoriates the judges for their blindness and stupidity. Can’t believe THAT GUY’S squat was white-lighted, but his wasn’t. Badgers and intimidates the officials at the head table. In particular, seeks out small, reserved women – like the meet director’s wife who’s keeping track of the papers with the next attempts on them. When he doesn’t get his way, he leaves before the corrupt meet officials can give him the crappy trophy he doesn’t want anyway. Bonus for temper tantrum, throwing equipment, and/or damaging the locker room.
Joe Crossfit – Wears those “barefoot” shoes, looks suspiciously healthy, tries to start a conversation about how the bench should be replaced by the military press.
Cheech and Chong – Most spotters are alert, hard-working, responsible, and can often total more than the majority of competitors. These two sluggish dimwits can’t do simple math, load the bar unevenly, and stand there gawking while someone is pinned under a half-ton of weights.
Sandow the Magnificent – One of the only two spectators not related to, or having sex with one of the competitors. He taught Coan and Kaz everything they knew. Lifted in the 1961 YMCA championships with tennis balls behind his knees and an bedsheet around his waist. Remembers when it was squat, deadlift, bench. Remembers when it was bench, curl, military press. Remembers when it was rock, cow, log. And, most importantly, tells everyone within five rows that it was better back then.
Mr. Coulda-Woulda-Shoulda – Will tell anyone in sight about how he good he would have done if not for injury, lack of money, another meet approaching, a better meet last week, lack of desire to cut weight. Offers copious free advice. But NEVER offers to give you a handoff, help you get your suit on, or assist in the warm up area.