Tag Archives: Roarsome

Hench Bench Wench – How my strategy is changing.

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 info@nodumbelles.com.gridhosted.co.uk

Getting The Job Done

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;
6×2 =12
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.



T x

Be Proud Of What You Do.

Dear GPC-GB Nodumbelles 2015 Lifters,

I would like to thank you all for joining us on platform on Saturday. I know that for many of you this was your first powerlifting competition and I feel honoured that you chose GPC-GB Nodumbelles Women’s Open 2015 to pop your powerlifting cherries.

I know you were nervous. In fact I know many of you were terrified. So many things were running through your heads even before you sent off the entry form. The thought of being up on platform in front of so many people made you feel sick. What if I make a fool of myself? What will people think? OMG I am just going to be a laughing stock. The other girls are going to be so good. SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!
The times you thought of pulling out. The ‘reasons’ you could give yourself for not entering running through your mind as you lay in bed at night. No one would know it was just an excuse would they? No one but you.

How will I know what to do? What if I get it wrong? How do I pick my numbers? Where will I warm up? HOW will I warm up? What if I need to pee? What if I don’t get my lifts? What? What? Who? Where???? AAARRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And Jeeeeeeeeezzzz I am going to have to wear a singlet!!!!!! Why do I have to wear a singlet? I think I will actually DIE. This has to be the most unflattering garment known to mankind and I have to wear it IN FUCKING PUBLIC!!!!! SERIOUSLY?????? Yes I will ACTUALLY DIE of embarrassment.

But you didn’t die did you?

No. Far from it! You actually thrived and grew with each passing moment.

You felt the fear and you did it anyway.  No one laughed. No one jeered. And you know what even if they had have done would you have cared on the day? I don’t think so. You see that is the thing about pushing outside of your comfort zone, you just can’t lose. Whatever happens you have won.  You have put yourself in a place you have never been in so whatever the outcome you will walk away with something you didn’t have prior to it.

Every year I stand back and I watch as each one of you literally grows as the day goes on and it is AMAZING. I see the shy, body conscious women who come to weigh in become these powerful singlet clad Amazonians in a matter of hours. I see empowerment of self and of others. I see friendships made. I see coach athlete bonds that are truly unique. I see that fear turn to elation and I see trepidation turn into absolute determination. I see body language change from self-conscious wall flowers trying to hide in the crowd turn into absolute puffed out peacocks of pride with glorious tail feathers on show strutting their stuff and I FUCKING LOVE IT!!!!!!

I want to thank each and every one of you for giving your all on platform. You were incredible. Not one of you came to just make up the numbers. You came here to be powerlifters and powerlifters you are. From the first-timers right through to our seasoned lifters each one of you gave your all. You conducted yourselves in a fashion that make me proud to be on the same team as you. No tears or tantrums. No divas. Just solid athletes getting on with what they came to do.  You lifted out of your socks. You supported each other with shouts, cheers, words of support and advice and when needed a good old kick up the arse.

Roarsome HD 2015

There is no shame in being competitive. NON at all. The difficulty sometimes comes in making sure you don’t take it personal. You can be competitive and not be a bitch. You should want to beat your opponent but you should never want them to fail. The better they become the better you become. Do not compare yourself but push yourself and those around you. Leave the ‘fight’ on the platform and be gracious in victory and defeat.

For many of you this is just the start. You are on page one your powerlifting story. Turn each page and enjoy it. Sometimes you may have to reread a chapter but never be tempted to miss a page. Sometimes it is a hard read and you may want to put the book down because you just don’t get it. Please persevere, one word at a time….one training session at a time, one lift at a time, a day at a time. This book has no end.

On Saturday for many of you your lives will have changed forever in ways that yet remain to be seen. For me the memories are many but I want to leave you with one of the reasons that for as long as you and others like you keep wanting to lift I will keep providing a platform.

At the end of the lifting a lifter came to thank me for the day, as many of you did. As she hugged me she said

 ‘I am so proud of MYSELF.’

The power of these words are the reason I do what I do.

 Be proud of what YOU do.

Power Beth


Tania x