2012 Iron Battle on the Mississippi – Marshall’s Meet Recap

2012 Iron Battle on the Mississippi

We got into Dubuque Thursday afternoon and checked into the ghetto Days Inn. It’s one of those creepy motels (not a hotel – a real motel), where you’re scared to look at the bottom side of the mattress. I was 283 pounds, so it was an easy cut to 275. I had my last meal at about 6PM and didn’t eat or drink anything again until weigh-ins. I turned the heat up in the room and slept under all the covers. I ended up weighing in at 273 pounds, so I spent the day eating and hanging out poolside with a Pedialyte®. I woke up at about 6AM Saturday and hit Perkins for breakfast. If you would’ve told me when we got to the site that I was going to have a good day…I would’ve told you you were an idiot. This was by far the worst I ever felt at a meet in my life. I was hyperventilating from 7AM to 5PM. I was walking around like a zombie on the brink of passing out the whole day. It was the worst feeling ever and I was in constant dread for 9 hours straight. If anyone out there has any experience with anxiety and panic attacks – they know how frustrating it is. You aren’t scared for any reason, you are just scared. It’s super frustrating being scared for no reason. Then only thing I could keep telling myself was that I was prepared for the meet today and had to make it to the platform.


For the last two weeks leading up to the meet, I wasn’t in my squat or deadlift gear because I wanted to let my back heal. Usually, I will squat right up until the meet. Having time off helped me greatly and my back was fresh; however, there was a down side, usually I gain weight and I can tell because I am in the gear. When meet day came, all of my gear was so ridiculously tight that I couldn’t get it on all the way and my legs were numb. All of my warm-ups were horrific and no where near depth. My knees kept caving in because my gear wasn’t up all the way. Depth and knees are never my problem, so you could say panic mode was screaming at full tilt! I just kept telling myself that I was the most prepared for a meet I have ever been, and as long as I got to depth, I could squat any weight that day. My first squat was 950″ish” and it was a night and day difference from warm-ups. I am a platform lifter, for sure. Luckily when it’s time to lift, everything else fades away and I just do it. I got to depth easy and fast and hit the weight. My next squat was 1014″ish” and it was stronger and faster than the opener. My final squat was 1052 and it was the smoothest and strongest squat ever. It was a PR for me and a national UPA record.


This bench-training cycle showed the most improvement, so I was a little more confident. Warm-ups felt strong and then it was time to put the shirt on. Once again, it was too tight and I couldn’t get it on all the way. We tried every trick in the book to get it on and also got it soaking wet so it would stretch more. Touching seemed like a mile down. I didn’t get close to touching in warm-ups. However, with the way training went, I knew that if I could just touch, I could press the weight. My opener was 630 and the shirt wasn’t budging. It forced my elbows in early causing me to touch lower than ever. I had to touch so low that I ended up resorting to opening my hands and letting it roll to my palms. It was very stupid and I shouldn’t have done it, but I was desperate. It teetered there for what seemed like forever and almost fell out twice, but I was able to get a quick press call because the bar was pretty much motionless the whole time. There was instant relief when I heard “press” because I knew it was gonna be ok. I pressed it and could breathe because I was safe…at least until deadlifts – haha! My second attempt was 670 and it didn’t take quite as long to touch because there was more weight. It was a grinder, but I got it. I wanted a 700-pound bench for so long and I knew this was the meet. My last attempt was 705 pounds and it was a slow, agonizing grinder, but I finally got my 700!


Deathlifts are always a toss-up in a full-meet. It’s hard to hit the same numbers in a meet that you hit in training because you’re so exhausted. I actually lowered my opener from 730 to 700 to ensure my squat and bench PRs. For my opener, my gear and straps were too tight, so I pretty much straight-leg deadlifted my opener. It was a lot harder than it had to be. My second attempt was around 750. I loosened the straps and was able to get my ass down into position and pulled it easy. My final attempt came down to two choices. I could take something under 800 to ensure best lifter, or go for the PR and national record. I knew I had 810 pounds in me, so that’s what I chose. It came off the floor easy, but got stuck at lock-out for a few seconds until I could get my hips through. This lift I felt could have gone either way. Sometimes when I look at the video, it looks like the bar goes up and down, and other times it looks like the bar stays neutral. This was just my day I guess, I got the lift!


At the end of the day I walked away with three national records, and the best lifter award. I got a sick Spartan Helmet for best lifter. This was the first time I have ever gone 9 for 9. This really could not have been a more perfect day for me. What a great way to start out representing elitefts™, showing them they didn’t make a mistake in believing in me. This was a very emotional meet for me. The last time I was on that platform was the lowest point in my powerlifting career. I competed in November and I bombed out on deadlift. Everyone around me (myself included) had such high expectations for me at that meet and I felt like the world’s biggest failure. I stood behind the stage and cried for like a half hour because I felt like I let everyone I loved down. I also knew that elitefts™ was keeping tabs on me at that time and I thought I had blown my dream. To come back to this venue and go 9 for 9 and win best lifter was such an amazing feeling for me, I will never forget it. I went back stage again, to the same spot I went in November, but this time I cried tears of joy!

There were many things I did wrong this cycle, and many things I did very right. I will make a few videos explaining what these things were. I want others to learn from my mistakes, so they don’t have to live them too. Thank you to everyone who has believed in me and stood by my side!

Thank You

I would like to first say thank you to my sponsors elitefts™ and South Side Bully. You provided me with the means, and support to live my dreams and do what I love. Thank you so much! Second, I would like to thank my wife Kathy. It’s true that behind every successful man, there is a good woman. I couldn’t do this without you. I would like to give a special thank you to Neil Heisick. Neil is my training partner at P-Town Barbell. He came down to help Kathy, Carley and me. We would’ve been totally screwed if it wasn’t for Neil coming to the meet. He was our handler, trainer, coach, friend, and motivator the whole weekend. We could not have pulled this off without you, Neil. I would like to thank everyone from P-Town Barbell, Southside Bully, Twin City Barbell, and Dakota Barbell for all the help you gave us on meet day. We needed all the help we could get with handlers, spotters, and plate loaders. Everyone we went with lifted in the same flight on Saturday so there was no way we could have helped each other. I would like to thank Joey Smith, The Ladewski’s, Matthew Goodwin, and Steve Colescott for always believing in me and supporting me since I came on with elitefts™. I want to thank Shannon Kane and her family for coming out to support me, and especially thank you to little Jillian, a 9-year-old girl I met in the stands and spent the day horsing around with on Sunday. Thank you Bill Carpenter for providing such and awesome venue for us to do what we love doing. And, of course, everyone who has followed me on elitefts™ and on Facebook, you have no idea how much I appreciate your support. I know I may be leaving people out, because I am only human, but to everyone and anyone who supported me, Thank You!

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About the Author

Like many lifters, Marshall Johnson started out as a bodybuilder and has only been powerlifting for three years now. Now, he's a rising name in powerlifting with a 1000-lb squat.