TRUE LIFE: HOW I BECAME A POWERLIFTER

HOW IT BEGAN

Back in December, I was bored with my workouts. That’s when the guys at work approached me about competing in a power lifting meet. I agreed and thought it would be an experience to train for! Something I have never done before :)

So my quest for the powerlifting meet started. I promised myself two things:                     1. Train smart.                                                                                                                                   2. Don’t try to chase numbers.                                                                                                       Well I didn’t follow either one. I did however learn about overtraining and unrealistic goal setting.

STARTING NUMBERS AND INITIAL GOALS

Bench= Starting number: 90 lbs x 1                            Goal: 135 lbs (body weight)     Deadlift: Starting number: 225 lbs x 1                        Goal:  275 lbs (PR was 225 x 1)       Back Squat: Starting number: 135 lbs x 1 (BW)         Goal: 135+

TRAINING NUMBERS 

I followed Jim Wendler’s 5 3 1 Program.

Here is how you determine your numbers:

Max Weight: weight                                                   Working Max: ( weight x .90) =  wmax**

** Your lifts are based off of your working max numbers

Week 1: 65% x %, 75% x 5, 85% x 5+                         Week 2: 70% x 3, 80% x3, 90% x 3+                      Week 3: 75% x 5, 85% x 3, 95% x 1+                                                                                        Week 4: Deload Week

THINGS I LEARNED

1.     JACK OF ALL TRADES, MASTER OF NONE.

If you are going to train for a power lifting meet, do power lifts. I thought I was doing everything right, until I realized that I was overtraining. I was working out with a client 2x week, did my power lifts 2x week,  1 hr-conditioning 2x week, and rock-climbing 1x week. After 7 weeks of doing that, I was wondering why my lifts weren’t feeling better. I was not doing enough soft tissue work to keep up with my workouts and I ended up hurting my shoulder. I stuck to 2x week training starting at Week 11.

2.     DON’T BE AFRAID TO RESET GOALS

This was a challenge for me because I was so set on the initial goals I set, that when it came to final weeks of training I didn’t want to be chasing numbers. It was an accomplishment to train for this meet, and all the weight that I lifted were PR’s, but I needed to get my mind right for the meet or I would been discouraged. My goals for the meet were: Bench: 100+ Deadlift 260+ Back Squat: 140+

3.     TRAIN HOW YOU WILL BE TESTED

My biggest regret is training for the bench without the pause. As I was doing the 5 3 1 program, my numbers were going up every week. Then I started incorporating the pause into my workouts and it took 20 lbs off my bench press. If I had practiced how it was going to be in the meet, I feel like I would have been more prepared for my third lift.

MY TIME

Back Squat Attempt 1: 137.8 lbs          Attempt 2: 148.8 lbs          Attempt 3: 170.9 lbs Bench Press: Attempt 1: 88.2 lbs      Attempt 2: 99.6  (PR)        Attempt 3: 110.2  (no good) Deadlift: Attempt 1: 225 lbs       Attempt 2: 248.2 lbs      Attempt 3: 264.6 lbs (PR!)

The meet came and went. I had such a blast!  I had to keep reminding myself that the competition was me against the bar, not the other competitors.  My goals the day of the meet were to get my best numbers. To say the least, I ended up winning first place for the women’s division and first in my weight class (I think I was the only one in my weight class). It was like no other competition I had competed in. It was me against the bar and you either pick it up or you don’t. I decided to pick it up.

TRAINING STATS

Week 1: Deadlift = 120 x 5; 140 x 5; 160 x 10         Bench= 55 x 5; 70 x 5; 80 x 13           Week 2:Deadlift: 130 x 3; 150 x 3; 170 x 10            Bench: 65 x 3; 75 x 3; 85 x 11            Week 3:Deadlift: 150 x 5; 170 x 3; 190 x 3             Bench: 95 x 5; 100 x 3, 100 x 1 (w/ pause)                                                                                                                                              Week 4: DELOAD

Week 5:Deadlift: 130 X 5; 150 X 5; 170 X 7                       Bench: 70 X 5; 80 X 5; 90 X 7  Week 6: Deadlift: 140 x 3; 160 x 3; 180x 10                      Bench: missed lift (sick)         Week 7: Deadlift: 160 x 5; 180 x 3; 205 x 3 (reset)          Bench: 75 x 5; 85 x 3; 85 x 3   Week 8: DELOAD

Week 9: Deadlift: 135 x 5; 160 x 5; 185 x 8 (reset)       Bench: 70 x 5; 80 x 5; 95 x 5 (pauses) Week 10: Deadlift: 150 x 3; 170 x 3; 195 x 3               Bench: 80 x 3; 100 x 3; 110 x 1 ( pause) Week 11: Deadlift: 135 x 5; 150 x 3; 185 x 1; 205 x 1; 225 x 1; 230 x 1 (PR!)                   Bench: 90 x 5; 100 x 2; 115 x 1+ (failed attempt)                                                                  Week 12: DELOAD (rest shoulder up)

Week 13: Deadlift: 135 x 5 (warmup); 185 x 3; 225 x 1; 240 x 1; 255 x 1 (PR)!               Bench: no lift — injured shoulder                                                                                                Week 14: Deadlift: 135 x 5; 185 x 3; 225 x 1; 245 x 1; 265 x 1 (failed attempt)                         Bench: 45 x 5; 55 x 5; 75 x 3; 85 x 3; 95 x 1 (pauses)                                                                 Week 15: WEEK BEFORE THE MEET (Tapering)

Recommended Reading:

All About The Bench Press by Jim Wendler

How To Build Pure Strength

THANKS FOR READING!

Posted in PRs, Strength Training | 1 Comment

BACK ON TRACK

I would like to say that I have taken a 4 month sabbatical from my blog, but that would be a lie. Because that would mean, I would have stepped away from it on purpose, but this is not true. I apologize for not keeping up with my writing.

This is me getting back on track. Better later than never, right?

The past six months I have been working full time at MBSC. I learned pretty fast that it is easy to get burnt out in this profession; or any profession. Recently, I have been putting my energy towards new and refreshing things.  I learned the importance of balance and I find myself being a better coach for it. I have taken up rock climbing, reading ( I “did” this before, but now I actually do it), making time to celebrate friends and family, and adopting the idea of “self-love.”

“Devoting a little of yourself to everything means committing a great deal of yourself to nothing.” -Michael LeBoef

I have been waiting for the perfect post to bring my blog back to life, but I realized the best post would be me just writing. So here I am—writing.

TIP OF THE DAY: Do something every day that makes you happy.

We are always willing to bend our backs for everyone else but ourselves. We cancel our workout, we post-pone a lunch with a close friend, we wait to plan a weekend get away because “there are other things to do.”  There is always something else we could be doing, but we must make the decision to do what makes us happy. Don’t let life get in the way.

WELCOME BACK!

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EXCUSES 101: WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

As the seasons are changing, so are people’s reasons for skipping training sessions.  It’s one thing for something to pop up—that’s understandable, life happens. However when it becomes habit that CANNOT be tolerated.

“I have work.”                        “I have to take my kid’s to school.”     “I have to take my kid’s to soccer, hockey, football.”            “ That’s the only time of the day I can go do my errands.”                        “I have a meeting.”            “I got food poisoning.. Can we reschedule?”            “ I’m not feeling like I can workout today.”        “It’s hard to get up when it’s still dark out.”            “Oh.. that’s too early.”            “I have to go to the bank.”    “It’s so nice out, I’d rather be outside.”  “I need to catch up on sleep.”  “It’s been a long day at work.”            “I feel guility leaving during the day to workout.”            “ I don’t have enough time in the morning to workout and get ready.”      “The classes I like, aren’t at the time I am available.”            “I am so tired when I wake up.”              “I am so tired at the end of the day.”            “It’s so cold in the morning, it’s hard to get out of bed.”                         “I am travelling all next week.”            “I should really get back into it…”                        “I forgot my sneakers/ shorts/ sportsbra.”            “ I have really bad cramps.”        “My boyfriend dumped me last night.”              “I have so much homework.”              “I can’t mess up my hair for work.”           “I don’t like getting sweaty in the middle of the day.”            “If I workout at night then I can’t fall asleep.”             “I’m stuck at work… again.”

DID I GET THEM ALL?

It is hard to hold yourself accountable sometimes, especially when the only time of the day you can workout is in the early morning or late night. If you don’t have the power within yourself (which we are all guilty of slipping once and a while)—make someone else hold you accountable. Make a gym buddy, carpool in the am, or have your significant other hold you accountable.

DON’T HAVE FRIENDS?

In your weekly planner, give yourself a gold star every time you make a workout! Sounds silly, right?  Remember when you were younger and you got a star for having good behavior, like making your bed or drinking your milk at dinner—it worked, didn’t it? Why not have the same positive reinforcement with workouts!!! It will be the best $1.29 that you spent on yourself! See how many stars you can tally month to month!

MAKE TIME

You make your own schedule. Pencil in a workout—whether you are in the office or on the road—you are more likely to get in a workout if you pre-planned it. You make time to do laundry every week, brush your teeth every day, make time for your workout! It’s just as important as brushing your teeth!

BE EFFICIENT WITH TIME

If you have an hour, plan a workout for 30 minutes so there is a sense of accomplishment and you keep moving. Set a timer and rest the least amount as possible until time is up.

BE REALISTIC

I hate when people set unrealistic goals. “I want to lose 10 lbs this month.” That’s great to have that goal, but it’s unrealistic.” Start with something that you can be consistent with, “Make it to the gym twice this week in the morning.” Losing 10 lbs will be a result from making the healthy habit of going to the gym twice a week. We should be more concerned with positive habits, then results. You will see more results if you focus on the habits.

GO AHEAD AND COMMIT!

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? 

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5 THINGS THAT STUCK AT THE RKC

This past weekend I attended the RKC Workshop in Philly and became RKC certified :) It was an amazing weekend of coaching, learning, and working out. I met some great people and learned A LOT! Such a great experience, I would recommend everyone checking it out! 

Here are five tips/ techniques I learned over the weekend that I wanted to share!

Corrective Strategy: Towel Swing

If you have a client use the towel swing, it will raise any issues your client is having with the swing. Depending on where the disconnect is (hips not coming through all the way or trying to raise kettle bell with arms), this drill will find it. If you find that the towel presents an unbearable about of problems, set the bell down, and go back and assess the dead lift. When you feel confident with their dead lift, resume to the swing.

Don’t confuse the drill with the skill.

When coaching kettlebells, just like anything else, there are drills to enhance the skill. For example, you would perform towel swings with a client until it looks smooth, then perform the skill: the swing. If they are getting their hips through or finally making all of the correct connections within the swing, you do not need to use the towel swing any longer.

Some get the drill confused with the skill. If they have the ability to perform the movement (the skill) there is no need to harp on the drill. Make sense?

Fix the cause of the movement, not the problem.

When coaching, we tend to see what the athlete is doing improperly. However, even if we see knees forward in a deadlift, we aren’t going to coach, “don’t bring your knees forward.” We would simply say, “butt back,” and the athlete or client tends to understand.

This way they are focusing on a movement rather than focusing on what NOT to do.

This  also allows the athlete or client do the movement naturally rather than thinking, “don’t let the knees go forward” or “don’t lean back”.

I think this was the coolest thing out of the whole weekend to bring back—because as coaches we do it naturally—but realizing why we do it was a different aspect I had not thought about.

“Press is like a rocket shuttle, swing is like a bullet.”

As the rocket shuttle takes off, it accelerates as it gets higher. In the press,  as you get closer to the lock out, the tension increases. The press is not a wind up —your whole body works to get that weight above your head.  Brace and then press up rather than brace, hold, and then press up. You can muscle the lighter weight, but when you are trying to put up something that matters, the brace and hold will not work.

When you fire a bullet, once you pull the trigger, the bullet sets off. There is no acceleration as it progresses. Same in the swing! Set the lats, hike the bell and pop the hips! Once you pop the hips, the bell already has a projected finish and the floats. Just a cool way to think of it!

3 P’s of the Snatch: Pop, Pull, Punch

This is a simple way of breaking down the snatch. Pop of the hips, high pull with a locked out wrist, and a punch at the top of the movement.

Here is a video for a progression for the snatch:

THANKS FOR READING! !

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Keep It Simple

SIDE NOTE: I am now three weeks away from the RKC Workshop in Philadelphia, PA. In order to pass the RKC certification, I must complete the pull-up test (15 second Arm Hang for females) and the Snatch Test (100 repetitions of snatches in 5 minutes with a 16kg kettlebell). Along with those physical tests, I also am graded on professionalism, coaching technique, double kettlebell technique, and the Turkish Get Up. It is going to be a fun filled 3-day seminar of kettlebells and more kettlebells.

Therefore, a lot of my training is kettlebell based. I believe that kettlebells are a great “tool in the toolbox” for strength and conditioning. However, the majority of my training at this point is with the kettlebell.

When I started training for my RKC, I wrote a program. It consisted of high volume, high reps of kettlebell work. I had double kettlebell days, single kettlebell workdays, lighter days and heavy days.  My goal was to get to three consecutive days of kettlebell work to prepare for the three day RKC Workshop.

TOO MANY COLORS!

I stayed with that training for three weeks until I read Enter The Kettlebell. When I finished Enter the Kettlebell, I restructured my program to increase my double bell work and condition my shoulders to be able to press, press, press. I was performing clean and press, clean and squat complexes, pull-ups, get-ups, overhead carries, straight leg dead lifts. Training consisted mostly of ladders. It was like using every crayon in the box for one picture, and then feeling like the picture never took shape. To say the least, I think I programmed too much into my workout. You should have seen my training sheet. I got lost just reading it! Coaching and personal training 50+ hours a week, I didn’t know how I was going to get in these workouts. This didn’t last too long.

 

I began reading Dan John, Never Let Go, and I restructured my program again. I understand that you should not keep changing your training because you won’t see any results. I kept with the ladders, because I found that I could get multiple quality repetitions in before fatigue set in.

Two weeks ago, five weeks until RKC, I changed my training. I decided I would keep it simple. Keyword: SIMPLE, not easy. With Dan John’s saying in mind, “If it is important to you, do it everyday.” My warmup consists of plyos, medballs, the arm bar, turkish get ups, and goblet squats. I have found a large improvement on my shoulder stability (and core) doing these every day.

Then when it comes to my training, I picked two exercises and end with snatches or swings. The workouts are simple, but I am working in every movement!

Here are some examples of my training sessions:

Training 1: Swings and Chin-Ups Conditioning: Sled Pushes

Training 2: Double KB Goblet Squat and Pushups Conditioning: Snatches

Training 3: Double Bell Work: Free Training Day Conditioning: Swings and Sled Push

Keeping it simple this way, I can focus on the two-three movements I am working on, and I crush the workout. Try it out: Pick two – three exercises and go through them for 30 minutes! You will be amazed how much it kicks your butt! Here is today’s simple workout:

Double Kettlebell Front Squats, Pushups, and Snatches

THANKS FOR READING!!!

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FOOD, INC.

Food, Inc. is a documentary that reveals how the nation’s food supply is influenced by a handful of corporations that are more focused on the profit before the consumer’s health.

I would recommend watching the film, not to scare you from eating meat, but simply to be more aware of where you are buying your food.

Here are three points that left an impression on me:

CHICKEN

To keep up with the “need” from consumers, the industry is not producing chickens; they are producing food.

Birds are being raised and slaughtered at half the time they were 50 years ago, and growing twice as big. To advance the chicken’s growth, a combination of factory breeding, hormones and antibiotics are being used. These birds are growing too big too fast that their bodies cannot keep up. Some can barely stand on their own two legs because their joints cannot keep up with the changes. In the book Eating Animals, and example of imagining “human children growing to be three hundred pounds in ten years while eating only granola bars and Flintstone vitamins.” Crazy right?

The industry has redesigned the birds to be “big breasted” since the majority of the population prefer white meat. (That’s probably how they get guys to eat chicken instead of ground beef)

RANDOM FUN FACT: After the decline in tobacco use, farmers in the south turned to chicken farming.

CORN-UCOPIA

There are over 40,000 products in supermarkets today, but about 90% have corn in them.

Here are a list of items that contain “clever rearragements” of corn that may surprise you:

Ketchup

Sweet and Low

Cheese

Salad dressing

Peanut Butter

Coke

Meat

Grape Jelly

Fast Food

RANDOM FUN FACT:  The average American is eating 200 lbs of meat per person/ per year.

VEGETABLES

We all know that we need to eat our broccoli and brussell sprouts, but vegetables seem more expensive these days.

Why is that?

The government supports the production of corn, bringing the market price down significantly. As a result, the corn that is made is being broken down and put into processed foods such as Coke or cookies, making these foods cheaper than a head of broccoli.   High fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, xanthan gum are all products of corn.

This makes it more tempting to buy something off the shelf than something from the produce aisle.

Isn't that tempting?

TAKE HOME MESSAGE

Read labels.

Shop on the outside aisles of grocery stores. 

Buy food from companies that treat the animals and workers with respect.

Buy foods that are grown locally and in season.

Shop at farmer’s markets.

 

THANKS FOR READING!

Sources:

Food, Inc.. Dir. Robert Kenner. Perf. Eric Schlosser. Magnolia Home Entertainment, 2009. DVD.

Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals . New York: Little, Brown and Co., 2009. Print.

Posted in Nutrition | 1 Comment

Life Lesson: The Turkey and The Bull

Here is an excerpt from John Maxwell’s Self Improvement 101: What Every Leader Needs to Know

 

A turkey was chatting with a bull. “I would love to be able to get to the top of that tree,” sighed the turkey, ” but I haven’t got the energy.”

“Well,” replied the bull, “why don’t you nibble on some of my droppings? They are packed with nutrients.”

The turkey pecked at a lump of dung and found that it actually gave him the strength to get to the lowest branch of the tree. The next day, after eating some more dung, he reached the second branch.  Finally, after the fourth night, he was proudly perched at the top of the tree. But he was promptly spotted by a hunter, who shot him down out of the tree.

The moral of the story: BS might get you to the top, but it won’t keep you there!

HAVE A GREAT DAY!

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