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2014: Rebuilding - The American Open

Posted by Sean Hutchinson on December 15, 2014 at 1:50 PM

So, I just got back from the 2014 American Open and have had some time to let everything sink in. I can honestly say I have met all of my post surgery goals for 2014 so far even though there were times I felt like giving up. My first official competition back was a local comp up in York, PA. I can’t even think of the name of it but it was a great experience to say the least. I was coached by one of my former rivals, and great friend, Aaron Adams. You guys might remember him being a stud of a lifter in the 62kg class as well with PR lifts of 112kg snatch and 151kg clean and jerk. Well, now that he’s retired from lifting he has picked up coaching on top of becoming an Acupuncturist professionally.

This was my first experience having Aaron coach me and I have to say it was a pretty great one. I ended up going 6 for 6 and hitting a lifetime PR competition clean and jerk with 141kg at 63kg body weight after snatching 110kg. My best training lifts at the time were 104kg snatch (no straps) and 136kg clean and jerk. I had originally entered as a 69kg lifter because I was consistently weighing in around 65kg but I got a bad stomach bug 2 weeks out and literally shit my brains out for a week and couldn’t eat anything so I lost a couple kg right before the meet. I missed an entire week of peaking but that didn’t matter. My coach had confidence in me and so did I. This was about 6 months after my rotator cuff surgery so, at that point I was just stoked to be able to do the lifts, let alone, hit a PR in the lift I always struggled the most in.

Fast forward a few months and we get to the Muscle Driver competition, which was almost 12 weeks to the date before the AO. I decided to hit that up so I could get a chance for my mom and sister to meet my new girlfriend who also happened to be competing. I wasn’t even peaking for this meet since I had to start my first week of 10’s for AO’s but I still managed to go 4 for 6 and hit a nice 107kg snatch and 132kg clean and power jerk. I couldn’t even split jerk because I had some really bad hip inflammation from a CrossFit workout I had done earlier that week. That was a huge PR for me being in the 10 rep phase of the LSUS training program and I have to attribute some of that to the additional CrossFit style training I have been doing on top of my Weightlifting training. Wait a minute…That’s right…I just said CrossFit. I know, it seems counterproductive for a Weightlifter to do CrossFit workouts, especially every single day but that’s what I’ve been doing for the last 6 months. Ok, maybe not every single day but I was doing WOD’s at least 3-4x’s a week on top of all the weightlifting I do. The extra conditioning work and core work I get from CrossFit has greatly impacted my ability to do work in the gym and stay fresh during competitions. Plus, it keeps training exciting rather than doing the same 4-5 movements over and over and over I get to push myself to do something different every day.

Now let’s talk about the AO…I’ve been looking forward to this competition since I missed the 2013 AO because I was still recovering from surgery. I remember I had just moved to Baltimore and started coaching Weightlifting at a gym there. I was literally a shell of my former self. I think I was weighing around 59-60kg at best, wasn’t really doing any training yet but I knew where I wanted to be. I wanted to be back up on that stage competing with the best lifters in the country. I remember looking at the results from the AO thinking that should have been me up on that podium…I guess I could have said the same thing about Nationals as well after getting 2nd place to Derrick Johnson because I failed to stick my last jerk. In the last year all my competitors have been steadily improving, while I have been simply trying to get back to where I once was. That was just more motivation for me to keep pushing myself although I learned to train a lot smarter than I used to do. I knew if something was hurting it was best not to push it and just take it easy. If my body needed rest I took it. If something felt too heavy I lightened it up and worked on percentages instead of trying to hit PR’s I got tons and tons of reps in at lighter weights that I could hit with good form. All these small things that I neglected in the past helped me push past my previous best. The funny thing is that leading up to AO I wasn’t really hitting insane lifts. I was hitting stuff that I was hitting back in 2009 but the difference was I wasn’t just hitting it once in a blue moon. I was able to stick these lifts any given day without question. I think that consistency is what built up to my PR performance at the 2014 AO. As of last week the most I had done in training the last 2 training cycles (12 week cycles) was 109kg snatch (no straps) and 134kg clean and jerk. I couldn’t even do split jerks because I was having hip issues in the split so I only had 2 workouts where I even did heavy split jerks.

Body weight was another issue I haven’t had to address since 2013 Nationals. I literally forgot what I was supposed to do to cut weight. I remember I was about 4 weeks out and I got on the scale at 65.8kg and was like shit, I should probably start cleaning up my diet. No more beer, no more milk, no more cookies, no more junk…ok maybe a couple beers and the occasional cookie but that’s it! I got down to around 63.5-64kg the week of the competition. I ended up driving down to D.C. the night before to compare my scale to the check scale so I could see exactly how much I needed to cut. I was about 63.7 before dinner and ended up having a cheeseburger with no bun at the hotel and a couple fries (I couldn’t help it I was starving after working all day and only having breakfast!) On top of being over weight, I never ever have to compete this late in the day. Weigh in at 4pm, lift at 6pm…weird. So that actually worked to my advantage since I had so much weight to cut. Since I live in Baltimore and the competition was down in D.C. I figured I would just wear my sauna suit down to the meet and blast the heater so I could jump start the water loss. I left my house at 63.6kg and showed up at 62.5kg. Still having 2 hours before weigh ins I hung out for a while and then put the suit back on and sat in my car with the heater on full blast in the parking lot for another 20 minutes. Came back in and I was right on with my weight. The good thing was I didn’t even feel fatigued or tired like I would if I had sat in the sauna to cut weight.

Now, lets get to the competition…or lack there of. I knew coming into this competitions I would face one of my biggest rivals in the 62kg class, Darrel Barnes. He is an outstanding Jr. lifter with PR’s of 122kg snatch and 147kg clean and jerk and a total of 268kg (going off memory here). I knew he would be a force to be reckoned with but to my surprise I found out he was not going to be lifting. This took a little pressure off me but at the same time I think I definitely left some extra kg’s off my total for that reason. We ended up dropping my openers to 105/130 since I wasn’t really competing with anybody but myself.

Warm ups went great despite clocking myself in the forehead with an 80kg snatch and giving myself a giant goose egg. I couldn’t help it, the weights literally felt weightless. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that I train with shitty rubber bumpers that don’t fit the bar snugly and I lift on rubber instead of wood platforms. My lifts felt so smooth and sharp it was unbelievable. The warm up platforms were a little slippery but other than that everything was going perfectly.

When it was finally my turn to lift I had to follow myself on every single snatch. I ended up going 3 for 3 hitting 105, 110, and 115, which was a great start for the day. Normally I would have been pissed following myself because I used to get so tired between lifts. Once again I’ll mention my crossfit training which I feel really helped my conditioning for situations like this I was able to recovery much more quickly and be ready for the next lift while still feeling fresh. Clean and jerks were almost the same with a brief pause between my 130 opener and 138kg 2nd attempt. I got a little toe heavy on my 138, which made it feel way harder than it should have. In my mind I wanted to go straight to 145 for a nice 260 total but at this point I just wanted to break my plateau and hit a PR clean and jerk and total in the process. Aaron ended up putting 142kg on the bar and I smoked it! So there we go, another 6 for 6 performance with coach Aaron. I’m starting to think this guy is my good luck charm…or maybe he just knows me better than I think. After all, we have trained together for 5 years in Shreveport, LA so I think he’s got a little extra insight as to how I work.


With 2014 coming to a close, in all this was a very successful year. I recovered from shoulder and knee surgery, went 6 for 6 at 2 competitions where I set PR’s at both of them including 2 clean and jerk PR’s with 141kg and 142kg and a new total PR of 257kg as a 62kg lifter. I got to get back up on the National stage and see some old and new faces in the Weightlifting World. I’m so excited to see this sport continue to grow and I am stoked to see how much further I can go in the next 2 years! Also looking forward to trying out for NPGL since we now have a team in Baltimore, MD!

Thanks for reading and if you aren’t already, follow me on instagram @built4this62kg. I post a lot of training videos on there now instead of youtube since it’s so much easier to do.

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