Category Archives: Competitions

2017 All England

I competed at the 2017 English Powerlifting Association All-England championships on Monday, as planned (I almost pulled out but I decided not to in the end). I haven’t done this competition since 2011, when I was one of only 3 women taking part (so I took home the bronze); this year there were so many women in the competition that they had their own day.

I weighed in at a super-light 69.45kg which is mostly down to generous scales (I think in reality I was about 1kg heavier). I arrived at the venue at 10.30 but didn’t start lifting until 4.10pm, so there was a lot of waiting around, gradually getting more & more wired as I drank more & more caffeine.

I was in a group of 4 M1 72kg lifters, and while originally I had told my coach that I simply could not come last, by the time the day rolled around I was less bothered about placing and more concerned with going 9/9 and getting my British Masters QT.

72kg M1 ladies

On squats, I opened with 92.5kg, which felt fairly easy but was red-lighted for depth. So that was the end of my 9/9 aim right away (doh). I’ve had issues with my squat depth since forever so I was pretty cross with myself for essentially throwing it all away on my first lift. But my coach decided to put my next attempt up to 95kg anyway, betting that I wouldn’t be so careless next time.

But guess what! I failed the second on depth as well. What the frick. By this point I was starting to panic, as I’d made a real effort to go low on my second squat but it still wasn’t enough. I am going to stick my neck out and say that the referees were being really strict, as I wasn’t the only person to get red lighted for most of their squats (three other ladies bombed out completely on their squats). But it’s a national competition – of course they’re going to be strict.

For my third, we stuck at 95kg and I made a super mega effort to just sit on the damn floor, and finally 3 white lights. Oh my god the relief. I had half intended to walk out of the competition and go home if I’d bombed out, but I managed to retain something of a sense of humour while I was waiting to do my third. After all, I have bombed out before (on deadlifts in 2013) so I knew how it feels to bomb (terrible but not the end of the world). Also I have to keep reminding myself that this is a hobby, not life or death!

On to bench, and I was still determined to get all the rest of my lifts. For bench I went 52.5/55/57.5kg for a safe set of lifts (only one red light!). I was back to feeling invincible!

On deadlifts I was first to go up in each round, as all the other ladies in my class had superior deadlifts. I opened on 115kg, which was easy peasy (I know I can double or triple this on a good day). 120kg was next, again all white lights. Then I put in 125kg for my final lift.

However, my coach & I realised that if I could pull 130kg, and the lady following me failed her final 135kg attempt, I would take the bronze. So we did some strategy and changed my final attempt (which you’re allowed to do twice). I stepped onto the platform with 130kg, knowing I had never pulled that much before, feeling like 125kg was probably my limit but wanting to give it my best shot. And I did it! I swear it was the HARDEST deadlift I have ever pulled in my lift, and the video is hilarious (I develop about 5 chins during the pull and look like my jaw is about to dislocate). But I got it!

130kg deadlift

So many chins

However, sadly (for me) my rival got her 135kg deadlift so I came last. She & I both totalled the same (282.5kg) but she was lighter than me (65kg) so she pipped me to the post.

Still I am glad I competed, I had a lot of fun (despite the hairy moments!) and I got my QT so I can go to the British Masters in December, should I want to do it. I have 6 moths between now & then to do some different training (running! hypertrophy!) and see if I can fall back in love with powerlifting.


Long time, lots of updates!

It’s been a shockingly long time since I updated here! And so much has happened. I believe last time I posted, I was still doing my remedial squats; since then I have competed again but not added any kilos to my squats sadly.

I did a competition last month in which I was hoping to get a 290kg total. Unfortunately my squats & deadlift didn’t go to plan (I wanted 105kg and 130kg respectively) but I did get a new bench personal best & total personal best. I finished with 102.5kg squat, 57.5kg bench & 125kg deadlift for 285kg total at 71.6kg bodyweight.

I’m not going to any national competitions this year, but I will be doing a divisional competition in November. Then in January I’m 40 (eek!) which means I’ll be eligible to compete at the British Masters in March! It’s in Belfast next year, so a road trip (or plane trip) is in order with my other masters pals!

In other news, I wrote a blog post for So She Lifts about creating a female-friendly gym environment. I was inspired to write this after volunteering at 3 women-only sessions at my gym, designed to introduce women to powerlifting without any pressure. I think the gym will be doing more of these sessions, maybe once every two months – it all depends on whether we can get people to volunteer to coach.

I also changed jobs! I got utterly fed up with my old job and am now working at a tiny startup. I was a bit nervous about moving away from corporate life & back into startups as I was worried my work-life balance would suffer. But my new employers are very cool and relaxed about working hours, so I haven’t missed a gym session yet.

Because I’ve moved offices I had to leave Urban Kings (the MMA gym I was a member of) and have joined a cheap Fitness4Less gym near my new work. I’ve done a few bodypump-style classes there, as have discovered that I don’t actually mind running on the treadmill so much (shock horror!). So far I’ve worked up to trotting at 6.7km/h for 30 minutes non-stop! Amazing! I’ve literally never run for that long in my LIFE! Seems aged nearly-40 my cardio fitness is better than ever :bicep_emoji:

Greater London divisional, 27/2/2016

It’s a pretty disgracefully long time since this competition, and I should have written it up ages ago! As usual life has run away with me. I had actually forgotten all about my “Competition Fatigue” post until I logged in to post this entry, and I think that competition fatigue definitely did a number on me. I didn’t do very well at this competition, and a lot of that is probably down to negative mental attitude.

I had been hoping for a 285kg total, to get me a qualification for the All England this year (so I could do at least ONE national competition in 2016, since I may not get a qualification for the British). But I came away with 277.5kg, worse than my last two competitions. Oops.

Squats were the worst. I just can’t seem to hit depth any more. I opened on 92.5kg and got red-lighted for depth. I had intended to go for 102.5kg as my second, but because of my opening failure (which always puts a crimp on your day) I took a relatively safe 95kg for my second, which I got. I then went for 102.5kg as my third, and again got red-lighted for depth.

At this point I decided I hated powerlifting, which I do (some of the time). But I soldiered on. I was hoping for a new bench pb of 57.5kg but as per usual I couldn’t get it off my chest, so 55kg it was.

Deadlift was better, though. I went 115kg / 122.5kg / 127.5kg for a new pb and I got all three! The 127.5kg felt really good and I think I have a chance of getting 130kg in July. The lift was caught on video and I’m a bit worried I might be heading back into hitching territory, so I need to watch out for that. But it was definitely good to get *a* personal best!

I have only been back to the gym once since the competition as I felt I needed a whole week off. I’ve sort of lost my motivation for lifting again (which happens every now & again) but I know it’s going to come back… eventually. Next competition is in July and I will try to aim for that 300kg total.

Christmas competition and a Christmas break

Once again I have failed to update my blog with any sense of regularity. But since we last spoke I’ve competed for the final (I swear) time this year and am currently on a break from the gym.

The break wasn’t planned – I just seem to have suddenly had a lot of social engagements  (both planned and not-planned) and gym time was the first thing to be cut from my calendar. My job has required a lot of time in the pub (much to my colleagues’ surprise as I never normally go) plus multiple leaving parties and dinners with friends and and… you get the picture.

Last night I said that next week I will finally get back to going to the gym and eating vegetables…forgetting that next week is actually Christmas, so I won’t be getting back to normal for a while!

On December 6th we had our annual Christmas competition at my gym. I don’t always manage to make the Christmas comp so I was really pleased to do it this year. I had kind of intended to give a 105kg squat a go but I was completely untrained and feeble-feeling (plus it was only 2 weeks since the previous competition!) so I didn’t. In fact I was lucky to get 100kg! Definitely the worst 100kg squat I’ve ever done.

I have the 95kg I did as my second lift on video though…

As you can see, Santa hats were mandatory.

I got 55kg in the bench (57.5kg wasn’t going anywhere, again). As for deadlift – I pulled 125kg with relative ease BUT then proceeded to drop it. Fucks sake.

In 2016 I will be working my grip. Again. As well as trying to get that 110kg squat.

Right now I am out of shape with a half pickled liver, which is not a terrible way to be. But I’m looking forward to all my social obligations being over and my normal routine resuming!

Greater London championships November 2015

Just over a week ago I did my final (official) competition of the year, another Greater London championships at my home gym.

I did OK – not as well as at the British, but a decent 100kg squat, 55kg bench & 125kg deadlift meant I got 3rd place (to two vastly superior lifters!) and another trophy.

I was disappointed that I didn’t get a new bench personal best, though. 55kg (my second attempt) felt really easy, but I messed up my attempt at 57.5kg. In fact I messed up on all three lifts, due to sloppiness and not really paying attention.

My second squat was 100kg and I didn’t get it on depth. I knew as I was coming back up that I hadn’t hit depth, I was so mad with myself. I have this real problem of not concentrating 100% on squats I know I can get, and that’s when I make mistakes. So I took 100kg for my third attempt and got it no problem.

Similarly, for my bench I put 57.5kg on the wrong part of my chest (too high) and that meant I couldn’t press it. Again I was so cross with myself – I think I have a real chance of benching 60kg, but not if I keep making thoughtless mistakes like that.

As for deadlift, I took 125kg for my second attempt and DROPPED IT. What a fool! I think I put my hands the wrong way round, although I can’t entirely remember (I used mixed grip and usually have my left hand under, but I suspect I may have put my right hand under). Happily I got it on my 3rd attempt but ugh, what an oversight!

I think I do get complacent when lifting at the gym AND at competitions (at least, divisional ones – I was focused and on point at the British). I’ve been lifting a long time & sometimes it’s easy to go on autopilot. Still, hopefully I’ve learned a lesson – I could have had a 285-287.5kg total but I threw it away!

Still my aim for this competition was to get my qualifying total for next year’s British in the bag. And I thought I had but…. On Friday the GBPF announced that my qualifying total is going up, from 245kg to 300kg.

So I haven’t qualified after all. I am cross and I feel a bit cheated – I knew the QTs were going up, but by 55kg?? And to add insult to injury, the QTs for the 63, 72, 84 and 84+ classes are ALL 300kg!

I have more to say about this later but for now, it looks like the next 6 months are Operation 300 – 110kg squat, 60kg bench and 130kg deadlift. Yikes. Can I do it? Er, honestly, I don’t think so. I added 15kg to my total between 2013/2014, and another 15kg between 2014/2015, so 17.5kg between now and June/July? Christ. I fear for my knees!

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!!