Over the past few years, the sport of powerlifting has been increasing in popularity. What was once an image of a 300 plus pound man bench pressing is no longer the case. We are continuing to see powerlifters of many shapes, sizes and age. With thousands of new lifters joining the sport , it has brought great demand for powerlifting coaches.
My journey into the popular culture of powerlifting started in 2015 when I was looking for something to satisfy my competitive nature. After my swimming days was over I turned to the gym with the goal in mind to preserve my athleticism. After a new infatuation with the weight room, I looked to for a way to showcase my discipline that I had developed over the years. At this time bodybuilding satisfied this itch, however I quickly came to the realization that this was not enough. Coming from a family of professional athletics I had learned the value of a coach or mentor. I had applied this mentally to bodybuilding and eventually powerlifting. Before setting out to finding a powerlifting coach I had come up with a set of criteria or goals for myself and how this coach would fit into that puzzle. For example, I had certain characteristics in mind when looking or researching about a potential coach. Some of those characteristics were as follows; what were their professional qualifications? What was their coaching experience? What was their monetary requirement? Professional qualifications played a big part into connecting with a coach or mentor. This told me that they were able to complete a standard requirement with the knowledge or experience that they had in order to be considered a coach. Next was their relatable coaching experience, in this case relatable for powerlifting. I was specifically looking for someone who had worked with a variety of individuals with the same goal in mind getting stronger. Finally the monetary requirement, at the time I had a budget that I wanted to stick to. I understood that I was not looking for a weekend instagram special however a bargain is a bargain. Eventually I had come to the point were I needed to contact the individuals that had made my shortlist. After contacting everyone and acknowledged the reviews from others I had decided to hire the man who I had shared a beer at a local bar after he had just came back from the International Powerlifting Federation ( IPF ) world championships and set a new squat world record Stephen Cascioli.
When we (Stephen) first started I had not ever really done a true test of ability however I did have a basic understanding of where I was. My training involved a mix of 3-5-rep work and 8-12; this could be understood as compound and secondary movements. In regards to compound movements my heaviest doubles (failed triples) were 335/275/405 (squat, bench, deadlift all in imperial units). Stephen had explained to me what I could expect in detail from his services and how to get the most out of it. We were about to begin on our weekly programming and frequent correspondence. In his first email he had reminded me that if at any point I had any questions or needed something to changed or cleared up I could send him a message or email and he would get back to me as soon as possible. Also, he explained that it was my best interest to be as detailed as possible when to it came to reporting back at the end of the week. This was the beginning of our journey together. Between email, text messages and videos sent we had begun to build a relationship. After a many number of weeks I had asked If we could prepare me for my first powerlifting meet as I wanted to begin my journey up the ladder. During this prep I had aggravated an injury that I had sustained before we had worked together. Stephen had put a plan in action to accommodate. We continued to work and eventually that day had come when I was time to compete. At this point (8 weeks) I had increased all 3 of my lifts 405/295/495. My first meet was a success, Stephen had prepared me with what to expect along with anything else along the way in order to have the best possible experience (465/314/565 total). Weeks had passed, training had been going well, and we had started to make some serious progress. After about 16 or so weeks it was time to test some one-rep max before the new year (535/365/615). In the New Year we had decided that I was going to compete again in June followed by Provincials in September. Later in the training cycle the relationship had come to a point where Stephen had a good understanding on what worked or me. Coach had given me rep max test for squat and deadlift were I hit 495x5 on the squat and 545x8 on the deadlift. This was a clear indication on what we were doing was working. Fast-forward to Friday May 13th when I received an MRI for a nagging pec, the diagnosis was a two inch tear of left pec major. Continuing with the preparation for the meet we did what we could on bench and moved forward with the other two lifts. Our goal was to post a qualifying total, and a few weeks before I sustain another injury - Rectus Femoris. This would later prove to have greatly affected my squat. In the end I did not end up posting a total and I was devastated. It was important for me to understand that everything goes UP and DOWN and that I had to trust the process that got me to where I was.
We began to rebuild, at this point the qualities that I wanted in a coach were paying off. With his experience he was able to work around the rehab we were doing and get me back to the strength levels before the injuries. Video analysis was a large part of why I was making so much progress. Every set every lift was analyzed and critiqued in a timely manner. This made it possible for me to improve from week to week and day to day. It was important for me not to get caught put in the numbers but work session to session and improve. Communication also played a few part in getting over this hill. Since I was able to talk to Stephen through text message he would get back to me rather quickly with in turn allowed me to progress faster. During our rebuilding we were again faced with the nagging pec injury, at this point we had decided that it was important to take a closer look at what is causing this issue. Since we had been working together for nearly 1 year not only was it easy for him to understand where to start but easy for me to understand “ okay so now what”. After about 2 weeks we were back on track, it seemed as though since Stephen and I had developed a working relationship the hills became easier to climb. At my next competition I finally posted the qualifying total 485/303/612 with plenty left in the tank, sure this was not an ALL TIME PR but that was not important. Looking at where I started 65 weeks before that was important.
This brings the story to today where I just competed and posted 495/314/595(7/9 long shot thirds my own fault ) . Squat, Bench,Total, and Wilks PR . The important thing to look at here is the consistency. No matter what sport or discipline consistency will take you the furthest. This can be seen from various aspect; one of is coaching. Staying with the same coach will ensure that the setback are as minimal as possible. You will be able to maximize your progress. My father is a professional tennis coach and has told me before “ Point by point , game by game tennis is very similar to life where you draw small disconnected lines that will eventually create a picture ”. Much goes the same with powerlifting it’s about the big picture; where you started and where you are now. I have been with Stephen for 83 weeks now and it was been a blast. It's not about just being told rep x sets but building a relationship with someone that will help you sustain your own definition of progress.
It's better not knowing how strong you are , than knowing how weak you are.