Amongst the chaos, Team myHMB athlete Brad Gillingham travelled to Ohio to compete in the 2020 Arnold Pro Deadlift.  He recaps on the quiet venue and event.

The announcement came on March 3, 2020 by the Governor of Ohio, the Mayor of Columbus and Arnold Schwarzenegger that the 2020 Arnold Sports Festival Expo would be cancelled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.  This meant that an estimated 220,000 attendees would not be able to attend the show.  But for 22,000 athletes the show went on in front of a limited audience mainly comprised of fellow athletes, coaches, and family members. It was eerily quiet in Columbus.  On Sunday, the downtown streets were nearly empty.

At the time, the cancellation of the Arnold Expo seemed shocking, but with the recent cancellations of public events, NCAA tournaments, professional sports, and school closings, it appears that publically attended events will be put on hold for a while. We can all hope that this strategy will save lives by helping to prevent the further spread of this disease.

2020 Arnold Pro Deadlift

As planned, I decided to attend the Arnold. At 53, my future opportunities to lift in big events are limited. So, for the 10th time I lifted in the IPF Pro Deadlift. The previous 12 years, this event was held on the main expo stage in front of thousands of people.  This year, the event was contested in front of a much smaller, but very enthusiastic crowd. It still was the Arnold, and the atmosphere was still great!

After suffering a serious back injury last spring, I spent several months rehabilitating my back.  When I determined I was healthy enough to resume heavy training, I set up my training with a plan in mind to try to break the American Masters 50+ record in the deadlift.  On meet day, I did not waver from the plan. I systematically worked my way through three attempts at  677, 722, 766 lbs.  My final attempt with 766 lbs. was a tough pull, but it left me thinking that another shot at 800+ is still in the future.

I finished in 4th place, but I was very satisfied with my performance.  I had come back a long ways from taking weeks off from training last year. I was able to set a new American Masters 50+ record, and I am already looking forward to trying to accomplish future goals.

Training for the Arnold

My training cycle for the Arnold was much different from any of my traditional cycles. It was set up in three-week mini cycles.

Deadlift training from the floor included a straight linear progression.  I worked up to a progressive single followed by light Romanian deadlifts (RDLS). The following week I utilized a similar method by working up to a progressive partial single.  This was also followed by light RDLs.  On the third week I rested from the heavy singles but worked up to heavier sets of RDLs.  These three week mini cycles were repeated 11 times over a 32-week period.  The week of the meet, I tapered off by skipping heavy RDLs.  My squat training was a combination of partial power rack hybrids (partial singles followed by speed singles), box squats and full squats.  This was a unique but effective training cycle.  It allowed me to rehab my back and prepare for a meet at the same time.

Stay Strong, and Stay Healthy!

Brad Gillingham, CSCS | Team myHMB Athlete

Hall of Fame Powerlifter Brad Gillingham

Brad Gillingham

Brad Gillingham is a Hall of Fame Powerlifter who is a 6-time IPF World Powerlifting Champion and has more than 30 IPF World Championship medals under his belt.  Brad is the co-owner of Jackals Gym where he coaches a variety of athletes.  Brad is also strength and conditioning coach for wrestling and volleyball at Southwest Minnesota State University.


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