Monthly Archives: September 2015

Just a quick one today…

I think this is the shortest turnaround I’ve ever had between competing & starting prep for my next competition. 8 days! I barely feel like I’ve recovered, and I was expecting a couple of weeks of “just playing” in the gym, but nope – new program started on Monday, and I was thrown straight into the deep end.

For the next 3 weeks we’re going to be doing sets of 4 squats @ 80% & sets of 7 bench & 70% on Mondays; then sets of 4 bench @ 80% & sets of 7 squats @ 70% on Thursdays. Week 1 we do 4 sets, week 2 we do 5 sets and week 3 we do 6 sets. Saturdays will be deadlifts.

So on Monday I did 4 x 4 @ 82.5kg for squats, and 4 x 7 @ 40kg on bench. The bench was easy (I probably should have gone up) but the squats were awful. My coach wants me to tuck my elbows in more to try to stay more upright, but I was finding it hard on reps 3 & 4 of my working weight and falling back into my old habit of bending over on the way up. Maybe one day it’ll stick.

It’s 7 weeks or so until the next competition and ideally I’d love to nail that 105kg squat & 130kg deadlift, but I will be happy just to get a good total and qualify for the Classic next year.


British Classic 2015

I’ve been trying to sit down & write this for a couple of days, but I think I’m suffering from some sort of post-event comedown (like you get after a holiday) so I’ve spent a couple of hours staring at a blank screen.

The short version is that I did really well at the British, better than I hoped! I didn’t place as highly as I thought I might do, but I still did better than last year (and the year before).

My results, in a nutshell:
Squat: 102.5kg (new personal best)
Bench: 55kg
Deadlift: 125kg (new personal best)
Total: 282.5kg (new personal best)

I got 8/9 lifts – the only one I missed was my last bench, 57.5kg, which I’ve never attempted before.

Overall, I came 16th. There were 24 competitors on the entry list – 4 didn’t turn up and one was disqualified, so I came 16/19 (I wish it was 16/24 – it sounds better!)

[For reference, in 2013 I got 90/50/110 and came last; in 2014 I got 100/47.5/117.5 and came 12/14]

Good things

I made weight so easily, I was honestly shocked.

I was 70.3kg at weigh-in (70kg exactly in my hotel room). As opposed to last year – when I low-carbed for 6 weeks and drove myself into a bad place (mentally & physically) – this year I cut out bread & pasta for 7 days before the competition. The only exception was a bacon roll & a Twix I ate on Saturday, when I was refereeing (the day before lifting). I’d weighed myself that morning & reckoned there was no way a bacon roll & a Twix would make me put on 2kg!

I even had a beer on Saturday night (the night before my competition!) because I was struggling with anxiety and unsure if I’d be able to sleep. Luckily it worked, and I slept from 9pm – 6.30am on Saturday night/Sunday morning.

Talking of refereeing, I had a great day doing first weigh-in for the lightweight ladies, and then refereeing the 47, 52 and 57kg classes. I got to officiate for some new national records!

The venue for the competition (LEAF Academy in Bournemouth) was really great – it had a huge warm-up room, two large changing rooms and lots of spectator space. My hotel was lovely too (quiet!)

Bad things

Nothing went badly over the weekend per se. There were a few annoyances, though.

For starters, I woke up far too early on Friday (5.45am!) even though I didn’t intend to leave until midday. Then the drive to Bournemouth took 4.5 hours, which was hellish. By the time i got to my hotel (which was, fortunately, a peaceful haven) I was stressed and frazzled.

I had intended to get a nice long sleep on Friday night ready to referee on Saturday. But my body had other plans and I woke up at 4.40am. For real. So I spent all of Saturday feeling tired, cranky and worried that I wouldn’t sleep on the Saturday night and my lifting on Sunday wold be shit. Even worse, if I was tired on Sunday I couldn’t possibly drive home that evening, so I’d be forced to stay in Bournemouth for an extra night. To say I was stressed on Saturday was an understatement.

Unfortunately I had a bit of a go at my coach as I was leaving the venue in the evening, because he wanted me to go to his hotel for dinner while I just wanted to go to my hotel & sleep. I was also upset & disappointed that I’d had no time to enjoy Bournemouth with my friends. But needs must, and I wanted to lift well & drive home on Sunday. So I was tucked up in bed by 9pm with a sleepytime podcast (Relax by Andrew Johnson) and I slept fine in the end.

The ugly (or just the post-mortem)

I felt OK to drive home after lifting (I’d had a 4-hour break while the afternoon session was on) and happily the journey home only took 3.5 hours. Still, longer than the 2.5 hours Google Maps suggested both journeys would take (thanks Google).

I had a really, really awesome weekend overall, although I was a bit sad that I couldn’t enjoy Bournemouth more. Still, I had a great Vietnamese meal on Saturday night (on my own!) and the bits of the town I saw were lovely.

I met loads of other lifters whose names I only knew from Facebook, so that was fantastic. I did get reminded, though, of some of the aspects of lifting that I don’t enjoy – bro-ness, nutrition stuff, that whole “no pussies” culture. 99% of people involved in powerlifting are absolutely great, but it’s that 1% who can put a shitty veneer on everything.

That said, I’m really proud of how well I did (for myself, obviously I’m never going to place) despite the fact that I don’t do nutrition, I don’t eat tons of protein, I have never read anything by Mark Rippetoe or any of the lifting “gurus”, I don’t read lifting blogs, I am not & don’t want to be lean and I try to stay as far away from “lifting culture” as I possibly can. And that’s really how I want it to stay. I just want that whole mainstream lifting culture (with its emphasis on leanness and sexiness and “gainz” and “skwaaaatz” etc) as far away from myself as possible. If that makes sense?

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What’s next

Well, I haven’t been back to the gym yet, but I know when I do I’ll be told to “just play” for a few weeks. Argh, I hate training without a program! But after the men have done their Classic in October, we will be training for the next London divisional on November 21st. In the meantime, I think I’ll do a little volume work, like I did at the beginning of the year.

Now that I’d got my 280kg total (actually 282.5!) I guess I have to aim for 290kg… 300kg when I hit masters in 15 months? Who knows, it might be possible.

British Classic -3 days

The time is nearly upon us… I leave for Bournemouth tomorrow, ready for the Classic this weekend. I am so excited and I’ve barely been able to concentrate on my work all week.

This competition prep has definitely been my most sane so far. I didn’t start trying to make competition weight until a week or so ago (as opposed to weeks & weeks ago) so the usual nightmare of not being able to eat what I want has been brief. I’ve been weighing myself every day on my not-entirely-reliable home scales, and according to them I’m within competition weight. Of course, we won’t know for definite until I weigh in on Sunday morning, but so far I’m feeling good about it.

I’m a bit paranoid that I won’t remember to take all my equipment with me. 90% of the competitions I’ve done have been in my home gym, so normally I don’t need to remember my knee sleeves, belt & (3 pairs of) shoes as I keep them all at the gym. I washed my knee sleeves yesterday, so fingers crossed I won’t leave them behind. They’re in the bath, Laura, don’t forget them.

I’m planning to leave home at 1pm-ish tomorrow, get to my hotel at 4pm-ish, then spend some time orienting myself around town. My friend R is staying in the same hotel but won’t get there until much later; and my coach + other gym buddies are staying in another hotel 5 minutes walk away. I feel a bit sad that we won’t be able to do any mad socialising (because we’ll all be fretting about our weight), but never mind.

Once I’m in the hotel & have identified places I can buy food, I’ll feel much calmer. I can’t actually remember the last time I stayed in a hotel alone! I will definitely be taking a good book and aiming for a relaxing bath on Saturday before an early night (rock & roll).

All I’m hoping for on Sunday is a good total – 275kg at least, preferably 280kg. I hate mentioning things like that, in case I jinx myself, you know? But I’ve picked sensible openers (90/50/110-115). You just never know how you’re going to perform in a strange venue, after a night sleeping in a strange bed, eating unfamiliar food. (That said, I’m planning to eat my meals in chain restaurants, so the food won’t be so unfamiliar!!)

The whole competition is apparently going to be streamed on Three Whites, so remembering to pack my makeup is a must!!

British Classic -1 week

[Content note for more weight talk]

Only a 8 days to go now (this time next week I’ll be refereeing!) and my training cycle is almost over. Only thing left to do is choose my openers & practise them on Monday.

I am very very pleased with how my bench session went on Thursday. I had 3 singles with full commands scheduled, and I was hoping for maybe one at 55kg. In the end I got all three at 55kg (120lbs), and all felt so good. I followed it up with a 10-rep set at 45kg. I don’t really know what’s made my bench so supernova recently – I did widen my grip a little a couple of months ago, and I’ve been working on striking the barbell just below my bra strap – maybe this is what’s made all the difference? It has definitely lessened the bar path, since I can get a decent-ish arch (and I have a big chest!)

I have been having stress dreams about my weight, though. I’ve not been anything like as obsessive about my weight as I was in previous years, which is nice from one point of view, but on the other hand I have no idea how much I weigh and it’s obviously stressing my subconscious out!

Me on 11 September 2014

Me on 11 September 2014

I recently got Timehop on my phone and yesterday it threw up a picture of me 1 year ago. If you’ve been reading a while you might remember that before the last British, I went overboard with my diet and tried low-carbing for 6 weeks or so. You might also remember that I was utterly fucking miserable and my digestive system basically stopped (fun).

I have really mixed feelings about this photo. On the one hand, I look skinny, and obviously I still have social conditioning that says therefore I look “good”. On the other hand, I can remember very clearly how unhappy I was; I was living on a diet of meat, eggs, vegetables and Califig laxative because otherwise I couldn’t poop. Good grief.

So that photo is kind of hard. I remember posting it on social media and people saying “You look great!”, which gave me a boost at the time because it was a reinforcement that what I was doing was OK. But on the other hand, I was too afraid to drink a 300ml glass of juice in case it made me over 72kg! Utter madness.

I feel conflicted at the moment, though, because I’m eating “normally” and trying not to worry about my weight. But if I go all the way to Bournemouth, stay in a hotel for 2 nights and wind up too heavy to compete, I’m going to be so cross with myself.

My goodness, this stuff is hard sometimes. Part of me wishes I hadn’t told everyone I was going to the British, because if I don’t compete that shit is going to be embarrassing. On the other hand, if I go and I weigh in at 71.9kg (which would be ideal!) then I will know I can make weight without fucking myself up mentally with food.

British Classic -1.5 weeks

I was going to wait until I was only 1 week out from the British before doing my next entry, but I should probably blog more often, right? Even though I’m hardly training at the moment. It feels a bit ass-backwards that as I come up to a competition I train less, but that is powerlifting for you.

So on Monday I had my last heavy squat session before the competition. As you know my squat has been going pretty poorly at the moment, so I’m not expecting miracles on the day. However, I am expecting to get 100kg because that’s my current personal best (and what I squatted at the British last year) so I have to at least match it.

Scheduled on the board was a triple at 90%, two singles at 95% and then heavier singles if wanted. As my current pb is 100kg, my percentages are nice & easy to work out. So I did my 90kg triple & one single at 95kg. Then my coach decided to put 100kg on, which I’m glad about as I haven’t squatted 100kg for a while (not since my last competition) and I need reminding how it feels. 100kg went up really well – not too much leaning over, so that was great, big confidence booster [:thumbs up emoji:]

I had intended to leave it at that, but my coach wasn’t having any of it & stuck 105kg on the bar. Yikes. I had a long rest then gave it my best shot, and I started coming up… but my butt shot up before my chest & I lost it. Shame!! But on the bright side I now know how 105kg feels (heavy!) and I feel so much more confident about my squat on the 20th. Sometimes failing a heavy squat is the personal pep talk you need!

Tonight I have my last heavy bench session, so on Monday we just did sort-of heavy bench. I intended to do 3 doubles with 50kg, but 50kg felt so good that my coach got me to do 3 doubles with 52.5kg. Then we did 3 singles with full commands & stops at 50kg, and I got all three (the last one was a bit messy, but I got it).

Tonight we’re going up, so I hope I can get 55kg – although even the tiniest bit of added weight on the bench can make me totally screw it up. I really want 55kg at the competition and I have to feel confident I can get it.

Bodyweight-wise, I was 72.8kg on Monday night (after a full day of eating) so that’s fine. I just need to keep it all on an even keel for 10 more days!

I’ve been looking at maps of Bournemouth & surrounds and have identified supermarkets etc, so I can get light food (i.e. non-restaurant food!) on Friday & Saturday, plus supplies for Sunday. It’s going to be a bit of a pain in the arse, but I can do it. I’m so glad I’ll have my car, so I can do my own thing. Plus I discovered a Nando’s on the outskirts of the city, so I can get my traditional pre-competition meal of chicken & rice if I need it!

British Classic -2 weeks

I only have a week of training left before the British & it’s all getting a it real now. I’m a bit fretful about being a hotel from Friday – Sunday (I lift on the Sunday) and not having access to a kitchen. I’m going to be eating in restaurants on Friday night & all day Saturday, so I need to plan ahead and make sure I can find places to eat plain-ish food. What a stress! Probably the best thing to do is find a supermarket and buy all my food from there. I’m glad I decided to take my car (instead of ride-sharing or taking the train) because I’ll have more flexibility.

I’m feeling a bit more confident about my deadlift after Saturday’s session. We had to work up to 3 heavy singles, so I decided to stick the weight on & see what I could do. 120kg felt good & fast, so I put 125kg on for a new gym personal best and (to my amazement) got it. So I went 127.5kg for my next and…got that too! I was going to stop there but my coach thinks I have 130kg in the bag, so we put it on. I got it about 5 inches off the ground but it wasn’t going to pas my knees. Still, I didn’t even think I’d move it so I’m not unhappy. If I can get 127.5kg again in 2 weeks I will be very happy indeed!

Now I’m wondering what on earth to open with on the deadlift. I had originally planned to go 110-120-??? but now it seems a bit pointless to bother with 110kg. I guess I’ll see how I feel on the day. 115-122.5/125-??? maybe?

This week I only have two training sessions – both squat & bench on Monday & Thursday. I won’t be deadlifting again before the competition.

British Classic -3 weeks

(Some mention of bodyweight in this one)

I am incredibly poor at tracking my workouts and the training that my coach plans for me/us. I carry a little book to note down my training but I rarely write in it. I feel I ought to get back in the habit (I used to write in it religiously!) because eventually one day I’d like to be devising my own workouts, or those for others, and I will need a record to look back on!

So last night I whipped my phone out and wrote down what I remembered from the last week. It’s less than 3 weeks until the GBPF British Classic now (eek!) and my training is getting hardcore. I’m going to drop my conditioning sessions on Friday until after the competition, just to save my legs – especially as I’m currently having deadlifts on Saturdays! I completely stopped going to Pilates a couple of months ago, but maybe it’s time to start again – or to at least go to my second gym for stretching on non-lifting days.

Over the last ~week I’ve had:

Monday: squat 4×4 @ 85kg; bench 5×5 @ 47.5kg
Thursday: squat 4×4 @ 80kg; bench 4×4 @ 50kg (first time I’ve repped 50kg for 4!)
Saturday: deadlift 3×3 @ 110kg, two singles @ 120kg
Monday: squat 3 @ 90kg, 2×2 @ 92.5kg; bench 3×3 @ 50kg, two singles @ 52.5kg, one horrible single @ 55kg

…all plus accessory work of course.

I’m pleased with how my bench is going, but my squat is pretty crap right now. I’m really struggling with hitting depth & staying upright. If I get 100kg at the British I’ll take it!

My weight seems to be OKish – 72.5kg on Thursday and 71.9kg last night. Given that I am eating pretty much nothing but pasta/bread/cakes etc at the moment (so far today I’ve eaten two madeleines – they contain almonds, right? Almonds have protein!) I’m amazed I’m not hugely over my class (72kg). I need to watch myself, though! There’s no point 2.5 hours to Bournemouth, staying in a hotel for 2 nights, only to not be able to lift because I’m over my weight class!