Bar x lots
40kg x 6
60kg x 6
80kg x 3
100kg x 3
120kg x 3
127.5kg x 3/3/3/3 Paused
90kg x 3/3/3 Static Lunges with Safety Squat Bar
40kg x 6/6/6 – each side of course Steated Flop n Locks (this is what I call them anyway, I am sure they have a proper name)
40kg x 10/10/10
Bar x lots
40kg x 6
60kg x 3
70kg x 3
80kg x 1
85kg x 3/3/3/3/3/3 DB Floor Press
55lb x 8/8/8 Banded Skull Crusher into Tri Fry
Bar + purple x 5/10 x 2 Table Top/Rotates
I have added commentary into videos to go into more detail. I hope it works for you guys. Let me know what you think.
70kg x 10/10
90kg x 5
110kg x 5
135kg x 5/5/5 Paused
125kg x 5/5 Chins
At the weekend I competed at the Irish Pro Invitational in the Bench Bash. I was originally down to compete full power in what was a superb line up of women. Unfortunately, due to ‘hipgate’ I had to pull out of that. After speaking to the promoter he agreed that I could jump in the with boy’s raw bench bash. This gave me the opportunity to play a much higher risk strategy than I usually would when I lift.
My usual game plan is to gain every 2.5kg that I can as this is the difference between first and second or as was the case at GPC Worlds in Vegas 2015, between Silver & Bronze when I pipped it by that precise amount. I plan carefully what jumps I am going to take from first to second attempt and then from second to third. I also know what increments I am able to take on each lift. This varies with each lift. I can confidently take bigger jumps on deadlift than I can on squats and the smallest increments are on bench. I practice these jumps in training so that my body knows what to expect.
My usual increase on bench press has been 5kg. I will also have an idea of what I optimally would like on the bar for my third attempt. So if I want 115kg on the bar for an ideal third attempt then I will open at 105kg with the plan of 110kg and then depending on how that moves I have two options of 112.5kg if the 110kg was a struggle or 115kg if the bar moved well. My third attempt will be a weight that I have never lifted in training. To note I have never hit the numbers I hit on platform in training, the most I have ever benched in training is 112.5kg.
This quote from Swede Burns is one that many lifters should take on board and one that I have added to my coaching artillery.
I am of the opinion that increments must be practiced, that your second attempt is just the stepping stone between first and third to get you where you need to be for your final total. This means I usually take a bigger jump from first to second attempt and then a smaller one from second to third. This has worked very well for me and everyone I train to get on platform. I always have in mind where I want to finish and work out the steps in between.
As powerlifters we are restricted to the 2.5kg minimal increase on the bar and often for women bench is more restrictive because it is commonly the ‘weaker’ lift. This means that for many the only options available will be 5kg and 2.5kg increments because this is what their current strength capabilities dictate. So for example if you are a novice and you want to finish on 40kg then your lifts would look like this 32.5/37.5/40kg. If this was the plan for one of my novice lifters then they would have hit the 40kg in training and their goal would be to get these lifts passed on platform. First you must achieve before you can over achieve (Thanks Swede Burns for that gem.)
As I have progressed as a lifter I have been able to change my strategies and this year one of the strategic changes I wanted to make was 7.5kg jumps on my bench as this is the only way I would now be able to push the numbers without having to risk a stupidly high opener. At Tattooed & Strong 2016 at the beginning of March I entered bench only last minute as training had been going well as basically due to injury bench was all I could do. As the event organiser I was pretty rushed off my feet for the days prior to the comp so I expected it to be pretty hit and miss depending on how tired I was.
As we were able to set international records I checked what they were and in the 90kg Open class the record was 118kg and in 82.5kg it was 120kg (in M2 I would break it on openers in both cases very easily). I knew 120kg wasn’t happening just yet but thought I could have a bash at 118.5kg on a 4th attempt and weighed in at 82.9kg. My then standing PB was 115.5kg. I thought the 118.5kg was going to be a long shot but what the hell I had nothing to lose and I could use this opportunity to practice the bigger jumps on platform. So, plan was 105/112.5/115 or 117.5 (BIG jump, SMALL jump) and then look at fourth 118.5kg. The third attempt would be dictated by the tempo of the bar on the second attempt. I even had a back up ‘shit day at the office plan’ of 105/110/112.5.(BIG Jump SMALL jump) I believe one of my strengths is adaptation and knowing there is a plan B and even a plan C gives me confidence, I function well on a good back up plan.
Yet as life has it non of the above is what actually happened. On the day opener of 105kg was as an opener should be, confident and to the letter. Bar tempo was excellent and we chose 112.5kg for the second. As mentioned I have done this in the gym but it has never been an ‘easy’ lift however on this attempt it literally flew up. By the time my handler had passed out, removed himself to the back of the platform, turned around I was literally locking out with it. With that I thought fuck taking the 118.5kg on 4th, why waste a lift? 118.5kg went on the bar for third attempt and I got it. NOW it was not ‘easy’ but it was a strong lift, my left shoulder lagged slightly but at no point did I think it wasn’t going. This was a 3kg PB and that little step closer to cracking 120kg AND I had successfully taken bigger jumps on both attempts.
This is actually 112.5kg NOT 118.5kg as stated on the video by your truly!
THIS is 118.5kg for the 90kg Open GPC Women’s Bench Only WR/ER/BR
Fast forward to last Sunday. As the only woman in the bench bash I literally had nothing to lose. It was actually really nice to go into a competition with no self induced or externally perceived pressures. So the game plan was simple. Get 120kg on the bar for third attempt, start higher and take 7.5kg jumps to get there. So we opened at 107.5kg which is the highest I have opened at, 115kg was on the bar on the second attempt, it was again a good solid lift, at this point I was pretty confident I could nail a 117.5kg but I had nothing to gain and so stuck to the plan and put 120kg on (see Big jump to SMALL…you get the idea). Unfortunately that was just a gnat’s fart too much on the bar that day, the bar came down solid and controlled and I fired it off the chest after the press command but it stalled around a third of the way up. It just wasn’t there, but I had it on the bar and it didn’t bury me, nor did I technically unravel at any point, it was simply too heavy that day.
115kg solid second attempt.
120kg so close and yet soooooo far!
The month of March has been super for me for making progress in terms of implementing different strategies that I can now use. For most people competitions are just about hitting PBs and I get that but I like to pick my battles. By setting different measures for judging my performance and how to improve it I feel I can constantly fine tune myself as a lifter. This is something that I drum into all my clients time and time again. Look at different way of measuring your progress, look at what strategies work for you, have a game plan with all options covered, know what increments on the bar you can do and practice them.
For more information on my coaching services and approach to training please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
This past 6 weeks has been a bit of a roller coaster. I somehow managed to injure my hip and what started as a small twinge soon deteriorated into something more serious that left me unable to squat and deadlift. Along with my mentor, Delroy McQueen, we took the decision to pull out of my next planned full power competition in Ireland on Easter weekend. I was pretty gutted as the line up is just superb and it would have been good to be there in the mix. This is where having a mentor like Delroy is invaluable, we both deal with reality and adjust our expectations accordingly and having someone as a feedback system keeps everything in perspective and working on the positives.
Delroy McQueen always in the tick of things even when he is lifting himself.
Keeping the bigger picture in mind, which is the GPC European Championships, a full lower body training ban was imposed. So pretty much all I have been able to do is bench and upper assistance work for the last 3 weeks so that is what I did. Two press days and two back days. First press day is formal bench with tri’s and the second is a secondary bench day and strict press with delts. On the back days it was chins & rows, rows and more rows with retractions and trunk work.
To keep me focused I spoke to the promoter of the competition in Ireland, as I knew that as part of the event the boys were doing a raw bench comp based on Wilks, and I asked if I could be thrown in the mix. He was very much up for that which was awesome. Along with that I put my name down for bench only at Tattooed & Strong which, as many of you know, is a competition I run with GPCGB. Due to that weekend being stupidly busy for me I was under no pressure and I was prepared to pull out at any time if I needed to. Thirdly I entered Ink & Iron which is a push/pull in 3 weeks and a back up option.
I am a firm believer in when you get ‘injured’ you can really optimise that time and often come back a much better lifter because of it. You can only work with the body you have on any given day. I knew what I couldn’t do so instead of bitching about is I turned to what I could do and set goals accordingly.
*Set GPCGB Bench Only Raw British Records in 2 weight cats in Master 2 & Open
*Hit a 120kg Raw bench regardless of BW
*Practice taking 7.5kg jumps on bench
*60kg Strict Press
*Not come last against a flight on men on Wilks.
*Fully rest hip and allow time to heal.
Well so far the plan is going better than expected. On Saturday I not only set the British GPCGB Raw Bench only record in 90kg (weighed in 82.85kg after having to eat steak pie & chocolate milk to get up into the weight class), I also was able to set it a a GPC European and World single lift record. BONUS!!!!!
As always when I lift I have lifting plan with various options depending on how things are on the day. There is always the optimal plan and underlying that there are other strategies depending on what the end goal is. What I do depends on each attempt and the tempo of the bar and how well (or not) the attempt was carried out. One of the goals for this comp was to build confidence in taking bigger 7.5kg jumps which I had been practising in training. So these were my plans:
A:105/112.5/115 – 118.5(OpenWR)?
C:105/112.5/118.5 – Optimal
To say that I had been crazy busy project managing for a straight 36 hours is an understatement. Lifting was to start at 12pm for first flight and I was in 2nd flight so at 11.30 I took of my promoter cap and put on my lifter cap. I told everyone I was off duty for the next hour or so, put on my singlet and in went the earphones. Any dramas would now be dealt with by the rest of the team.
Warm-ups went well with the help of Daz ‘The Walrus’ Sloan. I keep it short and sweet and last warm-up was 97.5kg. I was on about halfway through the flight. Mr. G was then with me on platform to hand out and Del was my bar tempo feedback system. For me the atmosphere at Tattooed & Strong is totally overwhelming if I let it be. After 12 months of organising to finally have up and running one of the most talked about events in the powerlifting calender AND all the very vocal support that came from the crowd as I walked on platform, there is a tsunami of emotion ready to sweep over me at any time.
Putting my wraps on I am shaking like a leaf, the adrenalin is on full pelt and I must now make sure I don’t let it take over and get giddy. There is no need to psyche myself up. I need to focus on getting the job done so I mentally blinker myself and fade everything out and go through my checklist. For the next minute my universe is a single bench between 3 referees. Nothing else is any concern.
Be A Dog!
Whatever happens now I have to deal with it. Stay in the moment. I now go through the checklist like turning the pages of a book, look at one page at a time, do what it says then move on to next page. No skipping pages. No thinking about what happens next. Heads down…no nonsense. Take the bar, wait for the commands and do what you came here to do.
105kg opener really did feel like nothing. A quick confer with Del and we agree 112.5kg is the next attempt. He reminds me to focus on this next attempt and that the decision on third will be made based on the 112.5 and how it moves. Stay in the moment.
I had done a 112.5kg last heavy session and it was a good lift but had moved pretty slow, but I felt good and was pretty confident that I would be able to push it through even if is felt tough. Bar is loaded again, same process, nothing changes, turn the pages and get the job done. 112.5kg FLEW up, looking back at it I think it is one of the sweetest benches I have ever done. As soon as I get up of the bench I look at Del and we both say 118.5kg 3rd attempt to take the GPC Open Single lift record by .5kg.
Now nothing changes. Just stay in that groove and get the job done. Bar is loaded, I can hear EVERYONE and yet I hear no one. Turn the pages, focus and Never EVER Give Up. 118.5kg is my step to 120kg. If I do this I know the 120kg will happen very soon. As Mr G hands off for me and I start taking the bar down I know I’ve got it and think of my cues ‘spread!wrap wrap wrap’ ‘pin’ ‘press’ ‘elbows’. Part way up the left arm lags slightly but I anticipate this and I know not to panic and just keep position and focus on driving my elbows through and it will lockout with the right. RACK!!!!! Job Done!
Right….tick off the first goals hit with added bonus. *Set GPCGB Bench Only Raw British Records in 90kg+WR & ER *Set GPCGB Bench Only in 82.5kg
*Hit a 120kg Raw bench regardless of BW *Practice taking 7.5kg jumps on bench
*60kg Strict Press
*Not come last against a flight on men on Wilks.
*Fully rest hip and allow time to heal.
Singlet and back to making sure everyone has an AWESOME time!
Time and time again I keep finding things to do to keep myself busy, to give myself the excuse that I haven’t got ‘time’ to keep this Blog updated. It is of course utter rubbish. All I am doing along with what seems like the rest of the planet is losing my life on social media. To be fair to myself last year was crazy busy for me and I had a really successful year’s lifting, became a national and international referee and very heavily involved in organising some stupendous competitions.
This all gave me a plethora of great stuff to write about and yet I didn’t. Instead I chose to waste countless hours ‘relaxing’ scrolling through miles and miles of meaningless shite. Like most things that you put off, once I actually get started I quite enjoy the writing even though I don’t particularly think what I have to say is very interesting or important. Maybe there-in lays the secret. It doesn’t have to be important and whether it is interesting is up to you, the reader, to decide.
I have never really been one for making New Year’s resolutions. I do however like me a good list and on my 2016 ‘to do’ list (along with play more Ukulele, start sketching again and learn 4th language) is to blog more. Now that in itself is such a vague goal. Blog more? More than whom? Blog more what? Write longer Blogs? Write more frequent Blogs? And what the fuck do I Blog about?
Simple ‘blog more’ as a goal is meaningless. It has no plan. It is not measurable. It gives me no idea what I am working towards or how to break it down into bite sized chunks that I can tick off my beloved lists. Yet I know the importance of planning, of having a structure, of having set goals that I can accomplish along the way in order to achieve what I ultimately set out to do. I do this week in week out with my training program.
As I said last year was pretty special for me in powerlifting terms. I became the first UK female to hit a 500kg raw (with wraps) total. Now it just didn’t ‘happen’ and when it did I didn’t even know how momentous it was. 500kg was a target I had in my head and my 12 month plan was to come as close as I possibly could with each platform outing. I knew exactly what numbers I needed to get and I knew I had to really put the work in to get them. These numbers were as far as I was concerned just out of reach for the time being but I was putting the work into the plan to get me there.
All that changed on 9th June 2015 at GPC European Championships when I hit 180/115/205=500. I will leave the details of this day for another post. The point is once you commit to something, have a plan, a way of working through the challenges and a way of monitoring your progress. Then you have to be prepared to put in the time and effort. Even though you may not really know where to start you just have to do it. You will learn as you go along. The only wrong way is by not starting at all. Remember plans can be changed if it doesn’t work for you, they can be adapted and tweaked. You HAVE to be willing to start and give that plan your all.
Every training session I have a plan. As part of my plan I have a target rep range for my main lifts along with how I would ideally like to hit that target. So for example the plan may be:
4 sets of 3 reps
Total = 12 reps.
So ideally this is how it would go to plan. Some days though things are not ideal. So for me the target rep range is what I want to walk away with and it is irrelevant whether I get that volume in;
What is paramount is walking away positively because I can adapt to suit the body I have on that day. Without the set target I have no direction. Without the set plan I have no structure. Without the adaptation I set myself up for potential failure. Delroy McQueen, my much suffering mentor and I called it ‘getting the job done’ and boy did we get the job done last year.
Now just by writing this I have started to formulate a plan, I realise that I have some good transferable skills that I can put to good use here. I have also identified at least 3 more ideas to write more about. I know that just like my numbers on the platform something magic is not going to just miraculously happen. Just by starting I have begun to formulate a plan with set targets. And that plan may not be perfect but I have to be willing to commit, put in the time and the effort, be willing to adapt and find what works for me so that with each entry I hit ‘upload’ with a positive feeling of getting the job done.
A few years ago in the days when the heaviest thing I lifted was a pint of Guinness and ‘sport’ of choice was pool I decided that I would enter Race For Life. I did a pitiful amount of preparation for it. I probably started doing a bit of running 4 weeks before the race and when I say run it would have been more a walk-jog-blow out of my arse kind of interval cycle. Still I had sent in my entry, collected money at the pub I was lodging in. The hairy Glass Barrel rocking patrons believed saving tits was a good cause and so generous donations were chucked in a pint pot that was passed around whilst the bands took a piss break on Friday & Saturday nights.
The day came and off I toddled with Mr G and two friends who waited for me at the end with an ice cold can of the black stuff as a reward. The sun was shining as I ran a bit, and walked most of the 5km, with an additional flurry of speed up to and across the finish line. I, along with hundreds of other women, that day took on a challenge as had thousands before us and have thousands after.
I am sure many reading this have done the exact same or similar race. I will also presume that, for some, the preparation was a shit as mine. I can’t even remember how long it took me but I do know I wasn’t in the front ‘serious runner’ group. Nope, I was like most, in the serious plodder group and gave no thought at all to who would be the fastest.
I hadn’t researched what an average time was for 5km and certainly not what the British, World, European records were over that distance…or how fast I would have to be to get on the next British Athletic team for the next Olympics. I just turned up. I plodded round. I finished. Just like everyone else. I enjoyed the atmosphere which was a nice collective of personal achievement, individual survival, elation and sadness.
At no point did I know that Paula Radcliffe could run this distance in 14:29:11. I didn’t know that Tirunesh Dibaba holds the World Record of 14:11:15. Why would I? That would be silly right? Me, a complete novice compare myself to some world class athlete or even the ones in the ‘serious’ runner front group. That would be like telling five year old primary school child to compare their reading abilities to a university graduate. Stupid right? So why then do ‘primary school’ lifters compare their abilities to lifting graduates? It’s just nuts.
There is an amazing buzz at the moment in strength training with ever increasing numbers of women getting bitten by the lifting bug. Not for aesthetics but because they like feeling fucking strong. They enjoy the focus of the training, the grunt & grit that comes with lifting heavy shit. They go to the gym, do all the training, watch all the videos on You Tube, follow and interact with other female lifters on social media.
They do searches for other lifters who they perceive to be at their own level. Searches for women at the same weight, same age and then watch video after video and they will often leave jaws dropping with the weights that some incredible female lifters are doing and then the niggling thought ‘I can never do that!’ rears its’ ugly head. And here in lies the problem.
Why the fuck are you comparing what you are doing in the gym with no or little competition time to lifters who have more experience, training, coaching, AND who have put in thousands of hours of training? Athletes who have tried and tested training methods, some with success and some not so successful, to get to the point in a competition that you are now seeing in a 2 minute clip?
By all means use these great strong women as inspiration, use them to kick the glass ceiling royally in the bollocks so that you can really see what is within the realms of possibilities when it comes to strength. BUT DO NOT compare yourself! DO NOT clip your lifting wings before you have even hatched out of the egg with these unfair comparisons. We all have a starting point so ask these lifters what theirs was, I can guarantee it won’t be anywhere near the numbers they are lifting now.
The amount of times I hear that someone would love to compete but then say they aren’t lifting enough or they will look for a competition when they are strong enough. Compared to whom? Where is this lifting measuring stick? I must have missed that meeting. I can honestly say I had no idea what anyone was lifting when I turned up to my first comp.
What I do know is, as a new lifter everyone took care of me, encouraged me, advised, people shouted my name and cheered when I lifted well. I saw some awesome strong women like Hanne Bingle, Angie McNamara, Monique Newton & Emma James who really opened my eyes to what strong can be. I made some great friends of these women and their support is invaluable as is their brilliant competitive spirit. Best of all I have no idea who won on that day or can recall what my lifts were!
So I guess the whole point of this ramble is if you want to compete the just bloody do it. Don’t wait for the day you are breaking World Records. Just do it. Get a total on platform. Get 27 white lights. That will be YOUR starting point and from there you can only improve. With your own personal results you will have your own lifting measuring stick and not someone else’s.
I had the pleasure this year to put on the very first GPC-GB Nodumbelles Women’s Open Powerlifting competition. It is the 2nd Nodumbelles competition I have run but this is the first 3 lift and federation affiliated comp. Both competitions were hosted (as will future ones) to encourage new and novices female lifters onto platform. I just love organising stuff. If I wasn’t in the business of big and strong my next choice of career would be event organising, so I am a pretty happy chump whenever I get to combine the two.
Deadliftng at my first ever powerlifting competition Feb 2011
I am also kind of a list keeper because I am forgetful. This apparently is because I am strong, and a scientist told me that, so I am taking it as my excuse for being a tad dim sometimes (Thanks Polley!) I remember not really knowing what to take to my first competition and just kind of winging it, which I do A LOT! I basically took everything! And then some more! And didn’t take other stuff that I never knew I would need. As I did more comps I managed to refine what I need to take to cover all eventualities. We actually managed to go to the WPC Worlds in Prague last year with only hand luggage for 2 lifters. I am still a tad unsure how this happened.
There was also a ton of stuff that I didn’t know about the whole procedure of entering a powerlifting competition. I was pretty lucky to have some really experienced lifter friends who helped me muddle through. To be honest, though, I was in blissful ignorance. I am pretty sure this is the case for most first time lifters. So I thought I would share a little list that I compiled for the lifters at the Women’s Open. I hope you found it as useful as they did (I think lol).
Now not all items will apply to everyone and you can of course add in your own personal stuff but I think it is a pretty could starting point for any level of lifter.
POWERLIFTING COMPETITION CHECKLIST
1. Athlete Responsibility
Send of entry forms with correct payment.
Ensure all membership subscriptions are up to date.
Obtain a current copy of the federation rules. AND READ THEM
Book time off work if necessary.
Confirm weigh-in times & location.
Make all necessary travel & accommodation arrangements.
Confirm arrangements for coach or handler.
Check qualifying totals/records if necessary.
2. KIT BAG
Nose Torque/Smelling Salts
Slip On or plastic bags for squat suit & bench shirt
Baggy sweat pants
Zip fronted hoodie.
3. Support Bag
Plasters & tape
Copy of Federation Rules
Copy of Qualifying Totals/Records
MP3 Player & earphones
4. ON THE DAY
Turn up on time for weigh in
Have you openers to give in at weigh in
Have your kit ready to be checked if there is a kit check
Check your flight and flight schedule.
Locate where you will be lifting and the warm up areas.
Set any rack heights that you will be requiring.
Locate toilets and changing rooms
Find an area to leave your kit etc
Talk through your plan with you coach/handler
Nodumbelles is the brainchild of women's strength ambassador Tania George to help strength athletes like you surpass training goals and develop strength regardless of your current level.
You'll find Tania training and coaching at Olympic Gym, Eccles, which she co-owns with her husband Paul George.