Tag Archives: the farm open

The Farm Classic, 26th April 2014

Well, I did it – I competed in the end, and I’m glad I did. I didn’t get any pbs – not even on bench 😦 – but I had lots of fun & really enjoyed myself.

My alarm went off at 5.50am on Saturday. Luckily I’d had a good night’s sleep; the previous evening I’d been in the pub for a colleague’s leaving do and, TBH, I was feeling quite miserable so wasn’t good company. I’m not sure why I’ve been so blah recently – probably a combination of work stress, feeling stressed about my back & lack of feel-good gym sessions. So I went home early & was asleep by 10pm.

I got up, had coffee, weighed myself of my home scales (72.0kg!) and set off for Bethnal Green at about 6.40am. We had planned to leave the gym (driving) at 7.30am but by the time everyone arrived it was more like 7.45. So I was quite stressed – I hadn’t eaten, and I needed to be weighed by 9.30am & fed before 10.

We got lost on the way up – inevitably! – and arrived at Moulton College at 9.20am. So I had 40 minutes to get weighed in, changed, eat & warm up. Not surprisingly, I was quite stressed and had the mickey taken out of me *sadface*. But I weighed in at 71.65kg and had brought nice easily-digestible food with me (ham sandwiches on white bread + peanut M&Ms) so by the time lift-off came around I was ready.

One of the best things about lifting at Moulton College is that you always get a t-shirt. Sadly this year’s features the utterly hated (by me, at least!) “Keep Calm” meme, argh!


One for Keep Calm Must Die, I think.

I initially put 85kg down as my squat opener, but on warm-up I just wasn’t feeling it & changed that to 80kg. 80kg felt OK, as did my second attempt at 85kg. I admit, because of my back I was only intending to do 1 or 2 squats, but the first two were good enough that I decided to go for a third. But, 90kg wouldn’t be a pb, so what would be the point? 95kg would be a pb though. So I put that in. However, while I felt strong on the way down, I just couldn’t lock it out, so no lift.

For bench, I was really hoping for a new pb of 52.5kg. I opened on 50kg, which felt heavy but went up fine. On my first attempt at 52.5kg, the bar felt controlled on the way down, but stuck like glue to my chest. So I tried it again, and utterly failed to control it on the way down. Sigh. I always seem to go to pieces in competitions with my bench.

Finally, deadlifts. I put in 100kg for my opener, but TBH I wasn’t really sure about it – after all, I haven’t deadlifted more than 70kg for 5 weeks! But 90kg felt nice & comfortable in the warm-up, and 100kg on the platform was easy. Next lift was 110kg; again, felt nice & easy. So I decided to go for 117.5kg for my third – it’d be a pb. But as soon as I picked up the bar, I knew I was going to have to utterly grind it out to get it, and grinding…. well, not so good for my back. So I dumped it.

So my final total was 85/50/110 = 245kg. At 72kg this actually qualifies me for the GBPF British Classic (just!) and is actually the same total I got in November 2012 when I qualified for the first time. So not too bad for someone who’s not trained properly for 5 weeks!!

All the other Bethnal Green lifters did amazingly well, too.


Big Dave (you can probably tell which one he is) posted 545kg; Anna 425kg and Diego (on the right) 617.5kg. Ernie Parkes, world-record holding masters 4 lifter from BGWLC also totalled 480kg. Sadly my little 245kg total is dwarfed by everyone else 😉

Then I went home and ate ALL THE PIZZA.


I’m so glad to not be cutting weight any more, I find it misery-making. In fact I’ve been having some ~thoughts~ about my weight class, which I will muse on in a later blog post.


Pre-competition nerves

I’m currently going backwards & forwards on my decision to compete at the Farm Open on Saturday. I’m not so much worried about injuring myself again, I’m more worried about doing crap lifts and making a fool of myself – which goes against everything I believe in regarding competing. I believe that people should be able to compete no matter what their standard, because competing is fun & satisfying; however I can’t seem to apply that to myself at the moment. It won’t even be “me vs me”, because I won’t be able to approach my current pbs in squat, deadlift & total.

On the other hand, I really like lifting at Moulton College (it’s one of the few venues with proper ladies’ changing rooms!); I would feel bad about having a meet t-shirt when I hadn’t lifted; and I have a decent chance at getting a new bench pb.

So I don’t know. I think I will leave it until the day. I still plan to go to the competition whether I lift or not, so I could decide when I get there.

I’m a bit nervous about the schedule of the day, too. We’re meeting to set out at 7.30am; weigh-in lasts until 9.30am and lift-off is at 10am. So if we get there at 9.30am, I will have exactly 30 minutes to weigh in, eat (because I need to make weight, I won’t be eating that morning) and warm up. Bloody hell. I’m almost tempted to drive myself up so I can get there earlier. No-one else I’m traveling with needs to make weight, so they can eat whenever they like 😦

On Monday I tried to set my openers for the competition. I had hoped to open with an 85kg squat, but trying it on Monday was a mess – I barely made it, plus I moved my right foot on the way up, so that’d be a red-light anyhow. I suppose I could open on 80kg but it seems so little.

I haven’t even set a deadlift opener. I lifted 70kg on Saturday for a few singles, which felt OK. Again, I guess I will have to see how I feel on the day. I’d like to open on 100kg, but I think 90kg is more realistic.

I haven’t had much to write about here recently as, well, I’ve just not been training very much. My back finally feels 95% normal, and on Monday I’m going to set my squat opener for the Farm Open. Yes, I think I’m going to compete – I may regret it, but then again I think I would regret not competing.

On Thursday I ran up to max on bench. My current competition pb is 50kg (paused) which I’ve struggled to reproduce in the gym. On Thursday I had two attempts at 52.5kg without a pause – on the first one, I needed a little help to get the bar out of the hole, but on the second one I go it all by myself. I think on my first attempt I was surprised by how heavy it felt, hence I failed it. The second try felt so much better.

My coach then had me attempt 55, 57.5 & 60kg. On the first two I needed more help to get the bar off my chest, but the lock-out was all me. But the 60kg attempt was (understandably) so heavy, and I couldn’t control it down to my chest at all. I woke up during the night on Thursday/Friday with a sore left elbow, which was unsurprising.

At the gym yesterday I did 3 x 3 squats at 60kg without any back pain, and a few deadlift singles at 70kg. Today I feel fine, which is a good sign.

I’m thinking that at the competition I will do a token squat & deadlift (maybe 80-85kg & 90-100kg respectively) and attempt a new bench pb. So it won’t be a total waste, hopefully. This also means I don’t have to worry too much about getting <72kg bodyweight, as I'm not going to be making any record attempts!

I'm pretty sad that I won't be making an attempt at the squat divisional record next week (97.5kg) as I'd really hoped to get it before my talk on powerlifting at Bacon 2014. But oh well; I guess I can talk about the challenges of injury instead!!


Well GOOD NEWS about my back… after my second round of acupuncture yesterday, today I woke up to an almost normal feeling back. I had my first round on Thursday & the physio warned I’d probably feel worse before I felt better…and I did. But today I feel pretty good. In fact I was thinking I’d go to conditioning this Friday, until I remembered that it’s Good Friday this week, so I won’t be at work. Doh!

Unfortunately, 3+ weeks of not lifting heavy has resulted in me shrinking. At first I thought it was due to my diet changes, but quitting oats for protein at breakfast while still eating plenty of chocolate (= my diet recently) can’t realistically result in the sort of weight/size loss I’m seeing. I can only conclude that I’ve lost quite a lot of muscle 😦

On Monday this week I tried some light squats (40kg) and light deadlifts (50kg) which felt OK. If I still feel good on Saturday, then I might up the weight a bit. In the meantime I’m testing max bench tomorrow.

Still, at least I haven’t lost so much muscle that I don’t appear HENCH (your version of “hench” may vary). I was brushing my teeth yesterday & realised that at some point over the last 5 years, I got hench without really trying.

Classy bathroom shot there

Classy bathroom shot there, Laura

You know the difference between you and me? I make 30% bodyfat look GOOD (with apologies to Men in Black)

Competition prep: week 5, day 2; bad news and sh*tty happenings

My back tells me that squatting 85kg for doubles on Monday was a bad idea. I’ve been sore all week, not just DOMS-sore but a definite deeper injured-type soreness. I went for more physio yesterday – including my first foray into acupuncture! – and he suggested it might be best if I don’t compete on the 26th. I am inclined to agree, although it breaks my heart. I had really hoped to lift at the Farm Open & make an attempt at that magic 100kg squat to celebrate my 5-year anniversary of lifting, but that’s not going to happen now. At least, if I rest & heal properly, I will have a shot at it in July at the Greater London club championships.

I went to BGWLC last night, and my coach has said “wait & see”. I might feel better in 3 weeks, but then even if I lift, I’m going to be lifting untrained (except for my bench, which is going pretty well) so I’m not sure there’s any point.

When I was walking to the physio yesterday, a man walking past decided I was looking at him, and looking at him in an unappealing way, so thought it appropriate to tell me to “fuck off you cunt” and spit in my direction. I have been feeling a bit fragile recently, with my back problems & some work stress, so I wound up bursting into tears (once the man was well out of sight!) and having to pretend to the physio that I had hayfever.

There’s this belief around that once you’re over a certain age, men no longer notice you & make comments about you on the street (and a very fucked-up opinion among some that younger women should feel appreciative of sexual comments, because they won’t get them when they’re older). I’ve managed to go without getting harassed on the street for a few years, but in the last 7 days it’s happened to me twice. A week ago I was walking home, and 3 kids in a BMW pulled up besides me on my own street and made some really crude remarks. Then yesterday, I get aggression from a man for daring to have my eyes stray over him (I assume he was looking at me to see me looking at him, but I guess that doesn’t count?)

I normally think of myself as a pretty moderate feminist, but honestly, shit like this makes me want to go full misandry, full #killallmen. People shouldn’t feel like they have to keep their faces neutral & their eyes on the floor when they’re walking down the street. I should be able to walk home without small children in their daddy’s BMW propositioning me. I’m so angry that yesterday’s incident has made me wonder if I should walk to the physio via a different route next week – but I shouldn’t have to, you know?

I’ve taken today off work as I just couldn’t face going in today. The combination of work stress + worry about my back + idiot street harassers means I need a day of self-care. Self-care is important.

Last night’s workout:

  • Bench: worked up to 3 doubles @ 47.5kg (95%)
  • Machine rows: 5 sets of 5 @ 20kg (each hand)
  • Front raise: 3 sets of 8 with a 10kg plate
  • Dumbbell shrugs: 5 with 20kg; 2 sets of 5 with 25kg
  • Tricep pushdowns: 3 sets of 10 @ 15kg

And on a final, ironic note: remember all that worry I had about making weight? Well, I’ve managed to get down to 72.8kg (800g over). Which is great, but a bit futile now. Dammit.

Competition prep: week 5, day 1

Week 5 already! The time is flying and nope, I don’t feel ready at all. Mostly because my back is still sore and I feel like I’m hardly training at all – just twice a week for the last 3 weeks.

I think I’m going to have to accept that if I do manage to compete on the 26th, the best I can hope for is an OK-ish squat, pb attempt bench, and a token deadlift. My bench is going pretty well, but I haven’t dared deadlift since I injured my back, and right now I’m not even sure I could pull 100kg without my spine exploding.

Last night I was meant to do 3 doubles @ 90-95%; I picked 90% (85kg) as 95% (90kg) was just a step too far. I managed 2 good doubles with 85kg, but only a single for the last set as my back was having no more of that. When I got home I immediately iced my back, then put Deep Heat on before bed. This morning I feel pretty damn tight, and sore – but it’s more the “overworked” kind of sore than the “injured” kind of sore.

I also benched a nice easy 40kg (80%) for five triples; did a bunch of accessory work and lots of stretching. I am feeling cautiously optimistic about my bench – it’s definitely going well in the gym, however historically I do have a tendency to go to pieces with it in competition.

I have more physio today – hopefully the penultimate session. I really want to try deadlifting on Thursday.

I feel sad that I won’t be able to go all-out for new pbs on the 26th, but shit happens I guess. I don’t want to pull out totally – I love lifting at Moulton College, and besides, I’ve paid my fee!

Competition prep: week 4, day 2

Last night’s session at the gym was the first time, since I injured my back, that I’ve managed to do my program as prescribed! So while we’re not out of the woods yet (by any means) I think my back is getting better. I’m a bit sore today though.

  • Squats: worked up to 5 triples @ 70kg
  • Bench press: worked up to 4 triples @ 40kg, then a double @ 50kg (followed by two more reps with assistance)
  • Narrow dumbbell bench press: 3 sets of 10 @ 10.5kg
  • Single-arm rows: 7 reps each with 15kg, 17.5kg, 20kg
  • Dumbbell farmer’s walks

The farmer’s walks were a bit humiliating, TBH. All the boys were using 50kg dbs, and the other lady I’m training with right now was using 45kg. I attempted 2 walks up & down the gym with a measly 25kg, but (as usual) the dumbbell fell out of my right hand before I could complete the second walk. I didn’t stop when it fell, so the dumbbell kinda went flying & I’m lucky I didn’t drop it on my (or anyone else’s) foot. I then tried doing laps with 20kg dumbbells, but once again they would fall out of my right hand before I could complete the laps. My right hand is utterly pathetic, so much smaller & weaker than my left. FRUSTRATING.

I really want to go to conditioning today; I’ve not been for 3 weeks now and I feel quite out of shape. But my back hurts – I had physio yesterday & Tuesday, which is obviously helping, but leaves me more sore in the immediate aftermath of treatment. I might just pop down to Urban Kings for the beginning of the conditioning class & ask the instructor what he thinks.

I have been thinking that its very nearly 5 years since I started at BGWLC (April 22nd), if I should mark it, and if so, how. I’m feeling a bit down about it at the moment, TBH, as 5 years on I’m still a “noob” in some peoples’ estimations (because apparently experience is measured in how much you can lift, not how long you’ve been lifting *mega eyeroll*); plus I really wanted to attempt a 100kg squat on April 26th & that’s probably not going to happen now. Oh self doubt! You old bastard.