Tag Archives: Strength

Training Week Commencing 25/4/16

OH Press
50kg x 8/8/8
Floor Press
50kg x 3/3/3/3/3/3/3/3 – 30 seconds rest
Inverted Band Row
4 x 8

137.5kg x 2
145kg x 2
152.5kg x 2
110 x 3/3/3
Banded Lying Ham Curls
1 x 100

95kg x 3/3/3/3
80kg x 8/8/7
Tri Machine Dip
3 x 12
Tri Press Down on Cables Super Set Face Pulls

60kg x 10/10
100kg x 5/5
120kg x 3
140kg x 3
150kg x 3
160kg x 3/3/3/3
100kg x 8/8/8
Hyper Holds
20kg x 10seconds x 3

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

We All Start Somewhere.

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.