FINDING THE STRENGTH FOR MY FIRST POWERLIFTING MEET
Written by Jenn Ciofolo
Recently, Jenn competed on a Performance360 team at the Smash Weight USPA open in San Diego. She finished with a personal best 213# back squat and Gold in the 114 pound weight class. This is her account of her decision to compete and training leading up to it.
I am not sure when I first considered doing a powerlifting meet, but I knew in the back of my mind for a few months that I wanted to do. I figured if nothing else, it would be a fun experience and something to check off my bucket list.
I was not entirely sure what I was getting myself into. The day that Brenna gave us the suggested training schedule I realized that the whole thing was real. She wanted us to just lift heavy every Saturday and Sunday at open gym for 6 weeks in unison with following my usual training at Performance360.
The training was pretty fun for the first few weeks and pretty awful for the last few weeks. Since I was mainly only training during Saturday and Sunday open gym, I made the personal decision to not drink for the duration of training. I also realized I needed to focus on my nutrition to help with my training and to lose 4 or 5 lbs to be in the weight class I wanted to, since I still had some ‘holiday weight” 5 months after the holidays ended. I followed the RP Strength templates and ended up losing about 7 lbs, while getting stronger and gaining muscle.
As for the meet itself, I don’t really have much to say. I would much rather just give some background on myself leading up to it.
I grew up as a mediocre ballet/tap/jazz dancer from the ages of 3-13. Quit dancing when I was 13 and did absolutely nothing athletic in high school. I started running with a friend freshman year of college and was happy when I could run 3 miles in 40 minutes. Dabbled in some half marathons for a year and a half and then finally decided to join P360 in July of 2014 when they were offering a 45 day challenge.
I had no idea what barbells were and couldn’t even do a push-up. The 45 day challenge consisted of a performance option and a fat loss option that was available at every workout, which was essentially strength training vs circuit training.
I picked the circuit training every single time during those 45 days.
Eventually, I decided to try out some barbell workouts and very slowly learned all the movements. What I am getting at here is I am not an athletic person and I have no background in sports or weight training aside from what I did at P360.
I vividly remember a moment (November 13, 2014 to be specific) where I decided to attempt to max out my deadlift for the first time. Right before I tried for my 185# deadlift, Coach Brenna was in the same class as me (which was coached by Julianne) and deadlifted 315# for a one rep max.
I was so ashamed of my 185# deadlift that I didn’t even want to write it on the board. Julianne encouraged me to and reminded me to be proud of my own progress.
I remember thinking that I could never be at a level similar to Brenna. I also vividly remember sitting down with Pritz in April of last year and telling him that I wanted to get stronger. I told him that my squat had plateaued at 135# and I was frustrated. He simply told me to just consistently show up on squat days, do 5×5 whenever I could and try to increase the weight a little bit each time.
So, if you think that you could never possibly be strong enough to do a powerlifting meet (or whatever other goals you have), you are wrong. I felt the same way. I do not have any natural athletic talent (ask anyone who has watched me play softball). I have simply followed the programming at P360 and have showed up consistently for 2 years to get to where I am at and to finish where I did at my first meet.
If I can do it, anyone can!
Jenn Ciofolo has been a member of Performance360 since June of 2014.