Signing Up For My First Powerlifting Competition, And Where I’m Getting My Gear

So I made the leap and decided to sign up for my first ever powerlifting competition: The 2018 Philippine Raw Bench Press Championships.

For those of you who don’t know, the traditional powerlifting competition consists of three main exercises: the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift, in that order. You’re given three attempts to do each one, and your highest successful lift is what counts towards your aggregate total for all three lifts.

I’ve been kinda-sorta lifting ever since my first year in university, but it’s only in the last couple of years that I’ve gotten serious about upgrading the quality of my lifting. It’s only now that I’ve gotten confident enough to actually join a meet without embarrassing myself.

  • Squat: 215kg maximum, but with not enough depth to pass in a competition
  • Bench Press: 142.5kg maximum, but I’m not yet confident in my pause
  • Deadlift: 205kg maximum, but it really varies on how I’m feeling that day.

Take note, this is just a bench press competition I signed up for, which is great for me since my squat form needs work and my deadlifts are still kind of average for my weight.

One thing people don’t realize is that joining a powerlifting meet is a bit of an investment. I’ve been canvassing for the cheapest options, and it still comes out to roughly P17,000 just to get started—a little over $300.

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 2.19.36 PM

It’s not cheap, but I think it will be worth it—it’s the one hobby I’ve really found myself so passionate about over the past couple of years, and it will be good to give myself benchmarks to improve and make myself better. In the meantime, all anyone really needs to get started is the singlet, so that’s what I’m getting first. I’ll just collect the rest of the stuff along the way. I don’t think I need to get a P10,000 pair of actual squat or deadlift shoes anyway.

(P.S. The funniest thing about the equipment I need to get is the fact that I need to get actual Y-front cotton briefs, AKA tighty-whities. Apparently, competitions don’t allow lycra-polyester boxer briefs, which is what I wear on the daily.)

In the meantime, here’s where I’m getting all of my gear:

Granted, I signed up for this comp on a whim, so it’s not like I’m going into it with proper programming and peaking—I just wanna have fun and sort of dip my toes into the scene.

Wish me luck, guys! Can’t wait to see how I look in spandex.


2018 Mid-Year Tito Checkpoint

First half of 2018 is coming to a close, so it’s time for a #TitoCheckpoint to see how I’m doing on my quest to be the strongest me I can be this year—and maybe even eventually compete in a powerlifting meet some time in the future!

Overall, I’ve made some good gains since 2017 ended:

  • Deadlift: 175kg ➡️ 200kg (+25kg)
  • Squat: 185kg ➡️ 210kg (+25kg)
  • Bench Press: 120kg ➡️140kg (+20kg)
  • Overhead Press: 90kg ➡️100kg (+10kg)

Things to work on for the next quarter:

  • Go completely strapless on my DLs
  • Get squat to parallel
  • Work on the pause at the bottom of my bench
  • Build up my cleans

When you get to my age, you learn to appreciate all gains and never let yourself stagnate for too long.

Every day, find one small way to make yourself better. That’s what it means to #LiftLikeATito.

2019 Goal-Setting: Compete At A Powerlifting Meet

So I didn’t get to check out the 2018 Raw Powerlifting Open at Fisher Mall this weekend, but I’ve been checking out the winners’ performances in case I want to chase this crazy little idea of competing in 2019.

I have a looooong way to go.

  1. I need to lose 10-15kg to get to the sub-100kg weight class, where I think I can put on a more competitive showing. I don’t like doing things where I won’t do well.
  2. Learn how to deadlift sumo-style. Seems like everyone who did well uses this over conventional form. Also need to learn how to deadlift beyond 180kg without straps.
  3. I’ve added 50kg to my powerlifting totals since the end of 2017, but am still maybe 100kg away from having a fighting chance. Broadly put, I need to improve my lifts in the next 12 months to hit the following PRs:
  • Deadlift: 200kg (440lbs) –> 240kg (528lbs)
  • Squat: 200kg (440lbs) –> 240kg (528lbs), get to competition-approved depth of hips-below-knees
  • Bench Press: 132.5kg (291.5lbs) –> 160kg (352lbs)

These are intimidating tasks, but it’s good to have a concrete target to shoot for: Moving my current 532.5kg powerlifting total to 640kg in one year.

Baby steps! Add 10kg each quarter to my squat and deadlift, add 7kg each quarter to my bench.

(As if those are easy goals. But I’ve already drafted an initial progress plan on Excel, just so it’s a little more tangible for me.)

Onwards and upwards! Follow my journey on Instagram at @liftlikeatito.


The Hustle Doesn’t Stop: My 2018 Powerlifting Goals

I’m lazy at the gym. There, I said it.

I went most of 2016 and 2017 not really bothering to stick to a sustained progression on my three main compound lifts—deadlift, squat, and bench press. I was happy to just coast, basically.

And of course, that’s a cardinal sin when you’re in your late 30s, like I am. Age-related muscle loss—or sarcopenia—is a legitimate thing. Your body becomes a lot less effective than it used to be in converting protein into fuel, and you’ve got less neuron cells for your brain to relay commands to your muscles. #BROSCIENCE

That’s why 2018—the year when I become a lot closer to 40 than I am to 35—is a huge deal to me. I made some nice strength gains towards the end of 2017 thanks to the good folks at Anytime Fitness, and I plan to keep gaining and gaining as the year goes by. Some goals I never ever considered as legitimate are now in my sights, i.e. nailing a 500-pound squat and deadlift, and a 300-pound bench press.

Here’s a quick checkpoint of how I’ve done in the first quarter of this year.


At my age, I’m pretty proud of my progress.

  • Deadlift: 190kg/408lbs (+15kg/33lbs since December 2017)
  • Squat: 195kg/429lbs (+10kg/22lbs)
  • Bench Press: 130kg/286lbs (+10kg/22lbs)

At this rate, I do think I can hit my strength goals by the end of this year. Maybe even join an amateur powerlifting competition in 2019.

It hasn’t been easy, especially since I’ve got a lot going on in both my personal and professional life right now. But here are some small tips I’ve found incredibly helpful in keeping my gains going.

  1. Set a goal. You can’t improve if you don’t know what you’re improving for. SMART goals are always the best—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. So when I do my programming, it’s because I know I have a 500-pound squat to grind for.
  2. Be better every time. I have friends who have put on just 2kg on their bench press in nine months. Don’t be like them. Always find a way to push yourself that one little bit each time out, whether it’s adding 1.25kg to your lift, fixing that little flaw in your form, or nailing that one added rep. A PR doesn’t always have to be weight-based—rep PRs are fun and realistic too.
  3. Take your foot off the pedal once in a while. I like programs like Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1 because it gives you a nice deload week every month when you’re allowed to dial back to just 40% of your 1RM to give your body and central nervous system the space to recover.
  4. Don’t find time, make time. There’s always an excuse not to hit the gym. If you don’t find the willpower to lock it into your schedule, it’s not going to happen.
  5. Find a friend. I used to love working out alone, since I generally don’t like people hovering around during my alone time at the gym. But having a social group is also a great way to push yourself at the gym, whether it’s to spot you, trade tips, compare PRs, or even just get some great footage of your set for the ‘gram. It’s motivating, trust me. Shout-out to my wife, who always inspires me to a new PR each time she’s around, and my Smark Healthy crew George, Buezzy, Romeo, and Stan!

Any other titos out there who can share great tips on how to keep improving, even if we aren’t spring chickens anymore? Drop me a comment, and if you work out at Anytime Fitness, let’s do a session together some time.


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Lift Like A Tito

Remember when you could work out 5-6 times a week, with each session lasting 2-3 hours so you could hammer in 3-4 different exercises per body part?

Me neither.

Truth is, I’m in my late 30s, and my body just doesn’t perform the way it used to in my 20s. Joints are a lot creakier, the motor isn’t humming as smoothly, and life sucks more energy out on a daily basis than it used to.

This blog is all about how I refuse to let middle-aged tito-ness stop me from trying to be the best me I can be. I know I’m no spring chicken, and I’ll probably never have a 31″ waistline again, or bust out those crazy-ass plyometrics or CrossFit-type workouts all those Instagram fitness influencers do.

But if I can’t be skinny, I can damn well be strong. And that means being more efficient at the gym than I used to be. All big, beautiful compound movements, done in 45 minutes or less. I can’t chase six-pack abs, but I’ll be hunting down PRs as often as I can.

I’m gonna go lift like a tito.

Because I refuse to break down like a lolo.


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