Friday, December 31, 2010

I love Weightlifting!

I have always been curious about Olympic Weightlifting. I have finally started training Oly WLing on a regular basis, and I love it! I still suck... I throw the bar forward and jump forward when I snatch (a big no no). I muscle up my cleans. My jerks are a disaster on so many different levels; I lead with my big butt, I pitch forward and I often press out the bar (pressing out is a DQ in a meet). The cool part about my lack of skill is the fact I get to LEARN and improve!

Powerlifting is like the Iyangar Yoga asana in the world of strength. Lots of emphasis on alignment and technique. Weightlifting is the Vinyasa of the strength world. Moving the barbell from the floor to overhead. The better your path and technique, the more weight you can move, but you have to find your own way.

Some snatch highlights from last week's training...

The Oly lifts can be frustrating... I feel like I am making the correct movement, but when the lift falls apart before I can stick the landing is proof I took a wrong turn. I focus my efforts on leading the upward movement with my traps, but cast the bar out, or I focus on keeping the bar close and pulling my hips to the bar and totally forget about pulling the bar with my traps, lol! About 1 out of 10 lifts I will magically connect the dots and the lift sails up almost effortlessly. Once I actually felt like if I wasn't holding on the the bar it would have been flung through the roof, then I effortlessly received the bar in a full squat. That is the best feeling in weightlifting... like the clouds part, a ray of sunshine shines down on me and the angels sing! Hallelujah! I finally did it right. So far, I get a PR every time I train! I am up to 46k snatch and 59k C&J. Nothing to brag about, but progress.

The best part about learning is having a coach. It's almost like cheating, I have someone who watches me move and gives corrections. My coach is Roger Sedecki. Roger is patient and has a sharp eye for movement. When he assigns a wight for me to lift, I know I can do it because I trust him. I also have a fantastic group of people I get to lift with at Twin City Barbell. So far, it seams like the group is dominated by women, and these women are strong and fast! Even though I do not seek out group activities, lifting with a group of serious people has a way of making me feel stronger. Learning something new makes me a better teacher.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Something New

I've been a competitive Powerlifter for a little less that 3 years. In that time I have competed at several local meets, 3 national meets and the Arnold Sports Festival. I have met some of the biggest names in the sport of Powerlifting (Sioux-Z Hartwig, Ed Coan, etc.) and I have worked with some fantastic coaches (Mark Reifkind, Matt Gary). Best of all, I met some of the most generous and helpful people. Powerlifters are a welcoming group, eager to hand out training tips and tricks. I love Powerlifting!

Competition has taught me more about how to train, training cycles, strength, recovery, nutrition and mental focus than anything else. I have always said, Powerlifting has done more for me than I have done for Powerlifting. I am a much better trainer for having trained for competition.

I'm a curious person, I have always wanted to check out Olympic Weightlifting. Hurling barbells overhead has always appealed to me. Now I know it's more like hurling yourself under the barbell, lol! I'm working with a new coach, Roger Sadecki. The group at Twin City Barbell Club is great! It's exciting learning something new, especially something so incredibly technical like Weightlifting.

I was looking over some of my old Powerlifting videos and it was interesting to watch my form change and improve. Here are two videos marking the beginning of my learning Weightlifting. I am awkward and unsteady... still making tons of mistakes.

Snatch - 83lbs at BW ~128lbs

Clean and Jerk - 123lbs at BW ~128lbs

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Training and Learning

After competing at the Raw Unity Meet in January I planned on taking some time away from powerlifting to regroup, balance out, and work on my bench press. I continued to train and work the percentages like usual. I added in one day a week of Olympic weightlifting, I worked on stretching and mobility. I added more yoga asana, actual yoga postures, different from stretch and mobility work. I also added more fun to my life, which meant actually skipping training to have fun with family and friends. This all seamed to work out pretty well. I pulled an easy 325lbs back in April, knowing I wouldn't have another heavy deadlift until the Hudson meet. Something for your viewing pleasure...

Now I am back to a (mostly) strict training schedule. Training has been going well. I had a brief training scare a few weeks ago in the form of an extremely terrible training week. Everything felt heavy, I struggled to pull 300lbs for a single, where only a couple months before I was pulling 300lbs for 3 sets of 2. I missed a squat at 240lbs... I was actually considering not competing at Hudson. I wondered if maybe I should schedule a full body scan, I wondered if I had cancer.

Lucky for me I have lots of good experienced people around me to give advice. I called Mark Reifkind right away, he suggested doing some speed work. Brenda Gnerrie told me I was probably over trained. I felt over trained, but I didn't see how that could be. I wasn't doing anything all that different.

After taking their advice, doing some speed work, lifting smaller loads, less kettlebell work, and a restful weekend, I had an excellent training day on Monday. My scheduled working weight was supposed to be 4 sets of 2 at 225lbs. The bar felt so light I had to double check the weight on it. I threw in a 5th set just because I didn't feel like I really did anything. Here is what it looked like...

The changes I made in my training were small, but they made a huge difference! A month ago I was struggling with 215lbs!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

What I have been up to....

Long time, no post. I quit blogging for a while because nothing exciting was going on in my life of strength after competing in the Raw Unity Meet. I decided to take some time off from competition because of meet burnout. Plus, my kettlebell training business starting getting much busier, which left me fried by the time I got home. The truth is there was some excitement in the past few months. Here is how the past six months went down...

March 2010 - Mid February I found out my beloved Press Gym was going to be sold or close for good. I got a two week notice that my kettlebell home base was going to have to move. Yikes! Lucky for me only three weeks prior Kate Klaers of the Athlete Lab Crossfit Gym called to discuss the possibility of combining forces. We met, I got to check out her totally awesome gym (complete with a pull-up jungle gym, bumper plates, med balls, etc.). It was love at first sight, but I really had no reason to move away from the Press Gym. Then Dan gave me the news about the Press closing. It was bitter sweet... I was going to leave my first love (the press gym) for somewhere new and exciting. With help from one of my favorite students, I packed up my kettlebell collection and moved a mile north to The Athlete Lab. What a great fit! I love having someone like Kate to collaborate with and the space is perfect. I even participate in Kate's CrossFit classes once a week. Life is good.

June 2010 - Olympic lifting class with coach Mike Burgener. I have always wanted to learn olympic weight lifting, but I always felt like I needed a coach to give me some guidance. Olympic lifting is very technical. Contrary to what most people think, I am not terribly coordinated. When I found out Kate was hosting a CrossFit Olympic lifting cert I was on it! I was probably the least experienced (with o-lifting) person in the group, which means I probably sucked the most. I didn't care, I was going to learn how to hurl barbells over my head! How cool is that? Here is a video of training the snatch with Kate Klaers. It is only a couple days after the Oly Cert, so I am very new the this lift. My biggest problem is how slow I am. Someone said I look like a ballerina with a barbell, lol!

July 2010 - RKC 2. I never had any real desire to go to RKC 2, but when my BFF Tracy Reifkind told me she had signed up to get her RKC 2 here in St. Paul, suddenly the idea of RKC 2 was much more appealing. It's always more fun to suffer through with a friend than alone. Plus, I like to discuss my experience with someone going through the same thing. Analyzing what I learn makes the learning stick better. Thanks to very good coaching I passed the RKC 2 requirements. More on this latter.

Future Plans - I took the summer off from competition. I even missed a few training days, which felt weird. I learned some new movements. Starting in August I will be training for the Hudson Natural Open Powerlifting meet. Even though I don't really care to compete, preparing for a meet keeps me honest and focused. I like structure in my training. I'm back on the blog.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Raw Unity Powerlifting Meet

This marks the 5th meet I have participated in in the past 12 months. The USAPL recommendation is 3 per year. I think I have mentioned in the past that I don't really care to compete. My plan behind doing 5 meets this year was to move past the anxiety I generate before each competition, and build some confidence. I realize that it is going to take more than 5 meets for me to move past that. I was just as nervous and stressed out for RUM as I was for the Arnold last year, lol! I've ended up canceling the Arnold because of meet exhaustion... I am really sick of doing meets. They are not that much fun for me, it is better to do less.

So, here are the details of how it all went down for me...

Making Weight
Probably the second most difficult time making weight in the two years I have been competing. Not fun at all. I started at Christmas time, I was weighing in around 129lbs. I did my best to keep the treats reigned in, limited alcohol and did some high volume kettlebell training. I didn't gain weight over the holidays, and sometimes maintaining is a form of moving forward. Two weeks out from the meet I gave up corn chips, my all time favorite treat. No grains a week before the meet, not much fun there. I also followed Matt Gary's water protocol which made me very cold. In the end, I made it down to 123lbs. It wasn't fun, but I did it, and am happy I found a way to make it work. I don't know how much longer I will be able to compete in the 123's. I don't have a problem moving up the the 132's, but I don't see the point of moving up if I can't move a lot more weight. So, we will see where I go in the weight class department.

I had an actual professional coach for this meet. Matt Gary was already coaching his wife Sioux-z, so he took me on as well. I can not express how nice it is to have someone thinking for you during a meet. Matt planned and timed all my warm-ups. We already discussed my attempts, so that was preplanned. Matt offered encouraging words and kept me on track. I missed Aaron, but was happy to have Matt running the show. I hope I can do what he does one day.

Squat training has been going great. I have been using a progressive overload by percentage technique. Matt Gary from Supreme Sports Performance and Training wrote a program for me a while back. I learned a ton from his program. I've recycled it and made a couple small modifications along the way. I moved past 85%, to 90+% toward the middle and end of the squat cycle. I feel like I need to learn how to move heavy weight without panicking, so right now it is important to me to go heavy occasionally.

I opened with an easy 231lbs, second attempt was 248lbs and I ended up squatting a nervous 259lbs. on my third attempt for a 4 pound pr.

Here is my last heavy squat of 250lbs I did about two weeks out from the RUM.

This was my most unpredictable lift. I hope I am not speaking too soon by saying "was my most unpredictable lift"... for the past two meets I nailed my 3rd attempt. This is after always missing my 3rd attempt. Again, I moved past the recommended 85-90% and nailed some heavy singles at my old pr of 315lbs at both the middle and end of the cycle.

I opened with an easy 286lbs, second attempt was an easy 308lbs, I ended up pulling a smooth 319lbs, another 4 pound pr.

Bench Press
I do not have the words to express how frustrated I am with this lift. I've had twitchy shoulders since I was a teenager. When I say twitchy, I mean some days it feels like someone has poured a bucket of sand in my shoulder joints. On the pain days I can't brush my teeth or pull on a tee shirt without mind numbing pain. If it hurts to brush my teeth, bench pressing more than 100lbs is pretty much out of the question. Seriously... I am pretty much at the same place I was a year ago. I know I am doing something wrong. I will not be competing until I can get this lift moving in the right direction. I ended up with 115lbs on my second attempt. I failed on the 126lbs I tried on my third attempt. In case you might think 115lbs is good, it is not. Anything under body weight is nothing special and for a competitor, anything under body weight is a joke. I am determined to fix this lift, but won't be competing until that happens consistently.

My total was 694lbs, a 9 pound pr. I placed 6th of 13. Right in the middle again this year. The same people out lifted me this year as last year. I can't say I had a bad meet. I had three pr's (squat, deadlift and total). I also have my work cut out for me. Improving my bench press will take some time, but I have lots of resources. Matt Gary is one of the best coaches in the country. I also plan on doing some training with Kevin Stuart, another world class lifter and coach. Maybe I will even get some barbell time with my mentor Mark Reifkind. Plus I have people like Angela Simmons and Shawn Cain here in my back yard to help me out. Training is the best part of competing for me. It will be interesting to see how 2010 unfolds.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Make Training Fun

I usually have all my training planned out weeks in advance. I have always had a "plan" but with my new interest in competitive powerlifting I have to be precise. I am usually on the verge of being over trained so it is important to stick to the plan. As my BFF Ellen Stein says "There is a reason behind every pound, every set and every rep... that's why I am a six time world champion and you all are injured".

When I saw on Randy Hauer's FB Page he was planning on doing a workout consisting of double snatch, overhead squat and sots press, I felt jealous! I haven't done a Sots press in months... I never practice them. I can't remember when I last did double snatches or double overhead squats. I certainly don't practice them either, but I wish I did. The problem is I have too many other weakness that I need to work on for powerlifting.

Squats were on the schedule for today. After training my competition squat at 80% and doing RDLs I was supposed to do Ham-Glute machine, abs and push-ups. I decided to stray from my training schedule... I gave the double swing, snatch, overhead squat and sots press a try.

I started light, double 8's, super easy. Double 10's, easy, double 12's, easy! Then I grabbed the 14kg, I was amazed I could actually get 5 reps in! Then I gave the 16kg a try, I managed to get 3 reps in before my form started to go. I had a great time trying something different. Don't forget to try something fun in your training!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hudson Natural Open Powerlifting Meet

Finally, a decent meet. Here is how it all went down...

*Preparation - I trained a lot less hard for this meet than I did for the last one. I trained so hard and was so attached to doing well at the TCO, when I missed all my 3rd attempts I was crushed. I pouted like a jilted teenager for almost a week. Doing the Hudson meet was like getting back on a horse after being thrown to the ground. I was scared, I didn't really want to do it, but I knew I had to. I already gained a lot of strength training for the TCO with Matt Gary's program, all I had to do was maintain, so I took it pretty easy.

*Making Weight - This time I let myself gain more than I usually do. Last meet I was vigilant about sticking close to 123lbs. I let myself get up to 128lbs this time. In fact, I was weighing 128lbs on Monday, that is almost 5 pounds over my weight class of 123.2. I really had to cut weight hard this time. Anyone who thinks weight doesn't make a difference in strength, try cutting weight or try staying 5-8lbs below your "comfort" zone. Weighing more makes you stronger. I just barely made weight this time, I was actually weighed in at 123.4 this morning, I had to spit, sweat and pee out .2 pounds then weigh in again. Last meet I weighed in at 121.5, almost 2 pounds heavier this time. Two pounds make a difference.

*Squat - My plan was to go for the numbers I missed last meet. I opened with 230lbs, a little heavier than I would have liked to open with, but I wanted to keep my jumps small. Three white lights, easy lift, even one of the judges commented on my great form. Second attempt was 245lbs, I was feeling nervous because of the debacle from TCO, my form wasn't as pretty, but it went up easy. Third attempts was 255lbs., I was feeling pretty nervous, and again my knees rolled in a little, but the weight still went up with hardly a sticky point at all. 255 was a pr!

*Bench Press - My nemesis... I just don't understand how I can press a 53lb kettlebell anytime I want, but still cannot bench press my body weight. I even got some coaching from Angela Simmons. I opened with 105lbs... easy. Second attempt was 115lbs. moved slower, but went up no problem. Third attempt - 120lbs; got stuck 1/2 way up and failed. I nailed 121lbs at the Twin Ports Meet in June, but have not put up 120 since... I am really sick of sucking at the bench press. My yoga teacher William would say I am lucky, the bench press is my guru and I will learn by having such a profound weakness to work on.

*Deadlift - My most unpredictable and frustrating lift. Last year at the Hudson meet I pulled 280lbs, but missed 290lbs. I got some coaching from Shawn Cain in preparation for the Arnold Sports Festival back in February. Shawn fixed my form and I ended up pulling 315lbs at his gym. Since then I have competed in 3 meets, my best pulls were; ASF - 308lbs (missed 319), TPO - 281lbs (missed 303 and 308), TCO - 303 (missed 314). So, finally it is official, I can pull 315lbs in a meet. I think I even shouted FINALLY after I put the bar down.

Summery - I do not like to compete. I like doing well in competition, but preparing for a meet sucks, I had nightmares about missing weigh-ins all night. I don't like taking a week off, I don't like scaling back on my kettlebell training, I don't like worrying about my weight. Mark Reifkind has given me a ton of help training for powerlifting, we both agree that meets get in the way of our training, which is the fun part. I actually decided to not go to the Arnold this year. I learned that competition is stressful, I am going to have to limit the number of meets I do.