Category Archives: Videos

Equipped lifting trial session!

Last Saturday I drove almost 3 hours up to Nottingham to have a trial equipped powerlifting session with Charlie Shotton-Gale and her coach Karl.

In brief, equipped powerlifting involves wearing special suits, shirts and wraps (depending on the lift) which are forbidden in unequipped (or ‘classic’) powerlifting. In the British Powerlifting federation the suits, shirts and wraps are still regulated and should be ‘single ply’ (that is, formed from one layer of material).

I had a go with a squat suit & wraps, and a bench shirt. There are also deadlift suits but they don’t give you a huge advantage over lifting unequipped.

First up was the squat suit. These things are REALLY hard to get on and are super tight and relatively stiff – but as it was my first time, the one I wore was relatively (I stress relatively) loose and soft. It still took a lot of effort to get it on – equipped powerlifting is NOT something you do alone, and you need to be comfortable letting people manhandle you! Once I had the briefs part of the suit on, Karl lifted me up by the shoulder straps and basically shook me into it.

I did a few lighter squats just in the briefs part of the suit (straps down), then put my belt on and did a few heavier squats. Then we put the straps up, Karl wrapped my knees, and I squatted 100kg+.

The wraps are basically long bandages you have tightly wrapped around your knee. The ones I used were soft and Karl wrapped them loosely…but again, in equipped powerlifting ‘loose’ & ‘soft’ are relative! My eyes were watering as Karl wrapped my knees and the last two revolutions made me gasp. Ouch!

Here’s a video of me squatting 120kg for 2 in the suit & wraps. As you can see I’m not hitting depth – apparently it’s unusual to hit depth the first time you squat equipped, as the suit & wraps are basically preventing you from going all the way down. The upside is that you feel REALLY safe and secure in the equipment and you get a huge bounce up at the bottom!

View this post on Instagram

Went up to @realworldfitness in Nottingham today to try out equipped powerlifting with @charliesgale. Had a bash at equipped squats and bench. I couldn't hit depth in the squat suit (but then when can I ever hit depth?!) and I couldn't touch in the shirt but it was super fun. Here is me quarter-squatting 120kg in full kit (my best unequipped is only 97.5). Turns out in equipped squatting you're MEANT to lean forward a lot, like I do (incorrectly in unequipped) so maybe equipped is my future?! 🤣 Still, even if I don't pursue it, it was great to learn about equipped lifting. Anything to make me a more well-rounded person-involved-in-powerlifting (I'm never going to be a great lifter so I'm trying to stay involved in the sport in other ways!) #powerlifting #equipped #squat #kneewraps #squatsuit #titan

A post shared by Laura (@_lauralifts) on

I think that equipped squatting suits me because you’re meant to really lean forward and push your hips back, which is my natural squatting style. I struggle to stay upright when squatting unequipped.

Anyway, you can see how tight the suit & wraps are in the video, and also how unbelievably painful the whole endeavour is! But it’s oddly addictive – everything up to actually doing the lift is pretty horrible, but once you’re doing the lift it’s like YEAH THIS IS AMAZING!

Next up I tried a bench shirt. again, the shirt is tight and stiff and you need help putting it on. When you’re wearing the shirt you have to really pull the bar towards you and fight against the shirt. So inevitably, I ended up not being able to touch (i.e. touch the bar to my chest). Again apparently this is common for new equipped lifters. I have to admit I didn’t enjoy wearing the shirt as much as I enjoyed the squat suit. I was able to press 80kg (without touching) but 85kg proved too much.

Overall I REALLY enjoyed the trial and would definitely try it again. Equipped lifting requires a lot of investment and a good team & coach around you, so I’m not sure if it’s something I’ll pursue myself (the coach at BGWLC doesn’t coach equipped). But it was super fun to try!

So much for giving up on powerlifting though! Although equipped powerlifting is a very very different beast to unequipped, so much that it almost feels like a different sport.


2016 roundup

2016 is nearly over, so it’s time for a bit of a roundup!

Unfortunately 2016 really hasn’t gone as I hoped. My aim for this year initially was to get a 290kg total, later revised to 300 so I could qualify for the British Classic in my last year as a senior. Instead, I’m ending the year having only competed twice (I usually compete 2-4 times a year), neither time nationally, and with a 285kg total – a measly 2.5kg increase on last year.

I’m not as disappointed as I could have been. As the 72kg senior class QT for the British Classic is now a whopping 325kg, any hope of me doing that competition has now gone out the window. I’m a bit sad to not have the prospect of any more senior classics, BUT as of January 1st 2017 I’m a master, so I get a whole new set of competitions to enter!

The QT for the 72kg M1 class is 227.5kg (at the moment) so I’m safely in. And so, perhaps a bit prematurely, I’ve already booked my plane ticket and hotel for Belfast, so I can take part in my first British Masters in March!

All I need to do now is get over my injuries. 2016 has been a year of injuries – first I hurt my foot doing cardio, luckily only minor; then I injured my left hip running, which meant a few weeks off squatting. Right now I’m nursing an injured right QL, which seems to have pulled my entire lower back & both hips into spasm & out of alignment. I’m seeing a physio, and have decided to abstain from squatting & deadlifting until Christmas to give my back some time off.

In the meantime, I’ve been getting into spinning, using the leg press for the first time and concentrating on my bench press. I’ve often heard it said that the best thing for improving your bench press is more bench press, and right now mine seems to be moving in the right direction. My best competition bench is 57.5kg, and I really want 60+ in March. On Saturday I did board press, hoping for 70kg but in the end working up to 75kg (165lbs!) for 2×2.

My bodyweight this day was 73.5kg so that’s more than my bodyweight in my hands, and let me tell you it feels scary!

In powerlifting-related news, I am now a British Powerlifting National Referee. In practise this was little more than a formality – I’d completed my 2 years as a Divisional Referee & officiated at enough national competitions. But it means I get a new tie, and a newfound sense of power!

So my plans for 2017, so far, are:

  • Try not to lose it too much when I turn 40 in January!
  • Compete in the 2017 British Masters (hopefully not coming last)
  • Take a few Greater London M1 72kg records
  • Organise some more “Introduction to Strength Training” sessions at Bethnal Green Weightlifting Club
  • Not injure myself so much – take better care of my body, get more massages and eat some protein!



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!

I’m still training with the intention of competing on July 25th and I’ve sent my entry form & fee to the organiser, but to be honest I’m going to see how i feel on the day & not compete if I don’t want to. I don’t *need* to compete, and I’m wary of putting myself in a difficult position, head-wise, if I don’t do as well as I want to.

Another thing that’s putting me off this competition is the number of entrants. The intention was to cut the entrants off at 40ish, because that way the competition would end around 5pm. Nice & manageable. I got the final list at the weekend and…. 74 entrants. The competition is going to end at 9pm I reckon (starting at 9.45am). I will be lifting in the morning & refereeing in the afternoon.

If July 25th is as hot as London’s been recently, the gym will be unbearable. 140ish people (assuming each lifter brings a friend to watch) in one smallish room, with no aircon, for 12+ hours. Oh well. The things I do for my sport!

I’m really glad that powerlifting is becoming so popular (especially among women) but competitions with newbies can be painful. I’m expecting all of the following on the day:

  • People failing their squats and shrugging the barbell off their back onto the floor (SO SO SO FUCKING DANGEROUS).
  • People dropping the barbell at the top of the deadlift, deliberately, then getting upset for having it red-lighted.
  • People not having the right equipment (no t=shirt, no long socks etc) and getting annoyed at the referees because they “didn’t know”.
  • The competition going really slowly because people are questioning the organisers/referees, not listening to announcements etc.
  • People spraying fucking talc all over the warmup platforms, walkways etc, and not caring if it makes the floors slippery and dangerous.

Ugh, just thinking about these things in advance makes me stressed. No-one seems to have a clue any more about keeping competitions safe. I admit, I blame CrossFit for the squat & deadlift problems (because CrossFit tends to use bumper plates and CrossFitters are taught to shrug off squats & drop deadlifts); and complete self-centred idiocy for the talc issue.

In terms of training, things are going OK I guess. Last week the highlights were squatting 85kg for 4 sets of 3 (not a massive achievement really, given I was squatting 85kg for 3 x 3 a year ago!); benching 52.5kg for 2 x 2 without pauses (52.5kg is my best with a pause) and deadlifting 110kg for 3 sets of 2. If I can get 100/52.5/125kg on the 25th I will be happy (hell, even 122.5kg on the deadlift again, because that would be a new pb total of 275kg).

Despite the tone of this post I am a lot happier at the moment than I have been for the last few months! 🙂

May 16th competition – video

Turns out someone was videoing the lifts at my May 16th competitipn, and has done a nice little video (mstly featuring the morning flight).

My (red lighted) 102.5kg squat is at about 00:56s and if I’m being honest, I think the judges were kinda harsh!! I was so close to making depth! Oh well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

I don’t often see myself squatting, so it’s good to see how bad my lean/upper body collapse is. I don’t think it’s too awful (although obviously I’m not a coach!). My butt starts coming up & my chest initially can’t follow – I imagine due to upper back/torso weakness – but eventually it does & I don’t quite topple over. Luckily! Definitely need to work on my torso/abdominal/upper back strength.

Anyway, the video is worth watching because it shows all the BGWLC ladies & some of the guys lifting, and I love how you can see powerlifting is for ALL body shapes & sizes!