BDFPA British full power (my 2nd powerlifting comp)

March 3, 2016

Six weeks ago, I did my first powerlifting comp – a BDFPA full power unequipped qualifier.

The British Championships was last weekend. Here’s how I got on with an extra 6 weeks training under my belt.

[Edited to add: someone messaged me after I posted to ask if this is raw/unequipped. Yes: belt, wrist wraps, that’s it. No knee sleeves or wraps, no straps]

A First-Timer’s BDFPA British Unequipped Full Power Championships

After a typical (and irrational) last minute panic about not making weight, I ended up weighing in much lighter than I thought I would, so that was my first “challenge” of the day completed! (No matter what the scales at home have been saying, I never quite believe it til I see it on the competition scales).

I’d set my openers the night before, and had to declare them at weigh in:

Squat 95kg
Bench 60kg
Deadlift 140kg

Just as a reminder, at my previous/first comp, I squatted 90, 95, 97.5, benched 60 (failed 62.5 twice), and deadlifted 130, 140, 150.

Today, I really wanted
– a squat PB (during training, I’d switched to low bar squatting, and seen some great progress in my training numbers, so was hopeful for a PB today)
– any sort of bench PB (60kgs in comp was frustrating me, because I’d been doing 65kgs paused for a few reps in training, and had got 70kgs a couple of times, too)
– but mostly, a big deadlift PB! The 150 at my previous comp had felt pretty easy, and I’d been dreaming of 160
– I also had a total in mind (325) although in hindsight I wished I hadn’t focused so much on a total, as this meant I made some 2nd and 3rd lift attempt choices which were probably too big

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Squat:
I was feeling much more confident with technique since switching to low bar, and with weight after the extra training block. I’d done a pretty aggressive cycle of squat training, and all that time under the bar had made me feel much more at home with squatting.

95 – went fine, felt good, got 2/3 white lights
100 – went fine, 3/3 white lights (delighted with this – remember that my 3rd lift at qualifier was an ugly 97.5 grind)
105 – went fine, went up, 3/3 white lights! I jumped in the air with joy and had a quick celebratory dance with my friend and weekend roommate CK (who was also competing in my flight)

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Bench:
Warm up wasn’t great as there were about half the amount of benches as squat racks, so we mis-timed things a bit and had to queue for warm up reps.
60 – went OK but didn’t feel great. 3/3 white lights
65 – not sure why I opted for this rather than 62.5 but I did. It got stuck half way up – no lift.
65 – tried again. The same happened.
Sigh. At least I got my first attempt, so I didn’t bomb and was clear to go through to my beloved deadlift!

Deadlift:
(no photos of the deadlift I’m afraid – I wish I’d got someone to video my 3rd attempt!)

My happy place! I was SO fired up to get 160. Warm ups felt easy as anything.

At this point in the comp, I had a 165 total, so needed a 160 deadlift for that 325 total. 150 was my PB, so 152.5 would be a deadlift PB… but I had that total in my mind.

140 – fine. 3/3
150 – fine. 3/3
160 – I’ve never even touched 160 before. It left the floor fast, it went up… and it got stuck just below my knees. I battled with it for a bit, then admitted defeated. GUTTED!

Squat 105 (+7.5 from qualifier)
Bench 60 (= as qualifier)
Deadlift 150 (Grrr) (= as qualifier)
Total:
315 (+7.5)

Lessons learned:

I should have thought of each lift separately rather than chasing a total. I was never going to place top 3 in my flight, so I was only ever there to nudge my own progress forward. Why did I fixate on a random total number? If I hadn’t had a total in mind, I would have opted for 62.5 as my 2nd bench (and possibly would have got this?), and could have opted for 155 3rd deadlift, which I feel sure I would have got. This all would have meant a new PB in all 3 lifts, a successful final lift of the day, and a higher total anyway.

We live and learn! 😉

Huge thanks to BDFPA officials, spotters, loaders and referees – it was a great comp with a brilliant atmosphere and everything seemed to run like clockwork. And if any of the ladies (particularly those in my flight) are reading, thank you for contributing to such a friendly, fun atmosphere! Everyone cheering each other on despite being each other’s “competition” – the epitome of good sports 🙂

Back soon, possibly with a “Powerlifting Lingo Jargon-Buster” post (“what is a flight?”, “what’s bombing?”) and possibly with an answer to that old chestnut “what’s next…?”

Got any questions about powerlifting? Leave me a comment and… I’ll ask someone else to answer them, because I probably don’t know the answer either 😉

BDFPA British full power (my 2nd powerlifting comp) is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.

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BDFPA Powerlifting Qualifier (307.5kg total)

January 18, 2016

Last Saturday, I did my first powerlifting comp (the BDFPA‘s Dean Mikosz Memorial). Quick version: a 97.5 squat, 60 bench, 150 deadlift for a 307.5kg total as a U70 unequipped lifter.

Longer version:

Got there bright and early, weighed in and set about getting hydrated (thank you client Bulkpowders for a generous gift of hydration drink and pre-workout gels for the day!)

Although there were other female lifters on the entry list, the others didn’t show up. So I was the only female competing full power on the day (you never can tell who will turn up, I guess – apparently there were quite a few women at this qualifier last year).

The day was split into two flights, under 80-something-KGs and over 80-something-KGs. So I was in the first flight, with the lighter men.

First up was squats (it’s always squats, bench, deadlift). And as my opening weight was the lightest of the flight, I was the first lifter.

This was pretty nerve-wracking! I’ve never lifted in a competition setting – on a platform and facing out in to an audience. The rack was different to the style I use for training. And being the first lifter, I hadn’t had a chance to watch anybody lift before me.

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That’s me in the warm up room – what an awesome old-school gym! My squat warm up had felt heavy, laborious and just not great at all. I don’t know if this was because it was earlier in the morning than I usually train, or because I didn’t warm up enough, or just due to nerves. No idea. But I wasn’t feeling great!

Anyway, little time to think about it. The comp started and I was announced as the first lifter.

Squat 1: 90kgs. Felt very heavy. But it went down, and back up again, and I got 3/3 whites (i.e. all of the 3 referees called it as a “good lift”).
Squat 2: 95kgs. Also felt very heavy. But again I got 3/3 whites although a couple of people in the audience told me I was only just deep enough.
Squat 3: 97.5kgs. I’ve done 100kgs in the gym, on more than one occasion, but I didn’t think it was happening today and I’d rather get another good lift than fail an over-ambitious one. After all, this is my first comp and just a qualifier. I only need to do as much as is needed to qualify. Felt very heavy, and was the slowest squat in the world on the way back up, but I fought for it and got it. 3/3 whites. Apparently it was deeper than my 95 and a better squat.

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Felt very relieved that squats were over!

Had a bit of a break here whilst the second flight squatted. Ate some decent food (stayed true to my bro roots: rice and tuna out of a plastic tub 😉 )

Bench 1: I went with 60kgs for my opener, a weight I only recently got for 2 reps in the gym. Maybe I could have opened with less. But I had no expectations for bench, I’ve only really started training flat barbell bench in the last few months. It went down and then up again. I got 2/3 whites (1 ref gave me a red due to me moving a bit before the “start” command). 2 of 3 is enough for a good lift.
Bench 2: I tried 62.5kgs despite never getting it before in the gym. It got stuck partway up and I battled it for a bit until the ref told the spotters to take it. A bit disappointing but I’ve never done 62.5kgs before so never mind. 3 reds – failed lift.
Bench 3: I tried the 62.5kgs again but the exact same thing happened again. I think I just need to train bench more, and iron out some technical issues.

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Another break here whilst the big fellas did their benching.

Deadlift time! Hooray! I love deadlifting, definitely my favourite lift by miles. I’d been waiting all day to deadlift.

Deadlift 1: 130kgs opener, very easy. I probably should have opened with more but wanted to feel confident.
Deadlift 2: 140kgs. This had been my PB in the gym for ages, in fact I only got 145kgs a couple of weeks ago and that felt a real struggle. This 140 went up FAST! The video (you can see it here) makes me laugh to see how fast it went up. You can hear someone in the background comment about how fast it was.
I decided to go for 150 for my third deadlift. I’ve never tried this weight before in training so it would be brand new territory and a PB if I got it. I really wanted to get a PB in my favourite lift as my final lift of the comp.
Deadlift 3: 150kg. I felt great walking up to the bar. I can’t really remember doing it, but it came up pretty fast, pretty smooth, no sticking points. It didn’t feel hard. Not easy, but comfortable. The video is here (you can see how pleased I am at the end).

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My total was 307.5 which was more than enough to secure a place in the full power unequipped Nationals. They are just under 6 weeks away.

In summary:

Squat was a bit disconcerting because I didn’t expect it to feel so hard and so uncomfortable. It just didn’t feel “right”. I don’t know if it’s technique, “attack”, confidence or something else I need to work on. Whatever it is, I will figure it out and work on it!

Bench was no more or less than I expected. I know there’s a lot more there once I get some more training sessions in the bank.

Deadlift was amazing and I’m buzzing! I also feel I have a lot more in the tank, I think I could have got 155 on the day (one of the spotters told me to do 145 for my second lift and 155 for my third, I wish I’d listened to him).

My goals for Nationals to be revealed, but are a “total” goal and a deadlift goal.

Over the next 5 weeks I’ll mainly be working on squat (weight, confidence, drive) and bench (technique, sticking point, a little extra weight).

I’ll leave it there before this gets far too long! If anyone from the BDFPA is reading, thank you for a very well organised, friendly, welcoming day. It was great fun and every single person I met was great. I’m a very happy new member of your Association 😀

BDFPA Qualifier: 307.5 Total is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


A Raw Powerlifter’s Competition-Day Packing List

January 15, 2016

I’m off to my first powerlifting comp tomorrow. I really should pack a bag.

Years ago, I did a “bodybuilding comp day” packing list for female competitors. It’s still one of my most popular posts. So I thought I’d do the same thing but for powerlifting. If nothing else, it’ll help me pack for tomorrow!

(That bodybuilder packing list is here, by the way, but I think I’ll re-post it so it’s not buried at the bottom of a load of waffle.) (Mmmm, waffles.)
powerlifting comp meet packing list
What To Pack For A Powerlifting Meet
(Assuming You’re A Raw Lifter and Female)

Clothing
Warm, loose clothing for travelling in, and for wearing between lifts
Change of clothing (or at least t-shirt) for afterwards
Trainers (unless you want to travel there in whatever you deadlift in)
Gloves, hat, extra layers if it’s a cold venue (or if you have Raynauds like I do)

Lifting Kit
Singlet
Belt
Wrist wraps
T-shirt (check your federation’s rules)
Sports bra (ditto)
Pants (ditto – apparently some federations don’t let you wear thongs)
Normal socks
Deadlift socks
Squat shoes
Deadlift shoes
Separate shoes for benchpress if you’re not wearing your squat or DL shoes
Chalk
Talc/baby powder
Nose tork if you use it

Drink
Water
Electrolye drink and/or
Some kind of carb drink
Some sort of pre workout (goes without saying that you’ll check the ingredients if you’re in a tested federation)
Hot drink in a flask (aka coffee 😉 )
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Food
Fast carbs (this could be in drink form)
Carb/protein meal/s (something you know your stomach is happy with)
Faster carb source (sweets, flapjack, bananas)
Food for afterwards, especially if you’ve got a long journey home
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“Sundries” (<<< love that word)
Towel
Wet wipes
Music and headphones
Phone charger and plug/in car charger
Cash
Tampons/towels if necessary
Pant liners if you think “a bit of wee might come out” (yes, really)
Any pain relief or muscle rub you use

Have I forgotten anything? Are there any secret weapon special items in your powerlifting meet bag?

Keep up with the action on social media
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A Raw Powerlifter’s Comp Day Packing List is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


Lift Heavy Things Up & Down, Once

November 20, 2015

I’m going to do a Powerlifting comp.

Before I go any further, here’s a quick “strength sports 101” for people whose brains go blank when they see a barbell*

(*hi Dad)

Bodybuilding: the one where you use weights in the gym to make your muscles big, but then at the competition you don’t lift any weights up and down. You pose on stage in sparkly pants/bikini. The judges neither know nor care what weights you can lift.

Powerlifting: the one where you lift weights up and down in the competition. You only do three different lifts. Bench press (lying on your back on a bench and pressing the bar up and down), squat (standing up with the bar on your back, and squatting up and down), deadlifting (leaning down to grab hold of the bar, then standing up with it). The judges don’t care what you look like in a sparkly bikini, but they are very strict about how you lift your weights up and down.

Olympic lifting: the one you might see on TV sometimes during major sporting events, where people in singlets do athletic stuff with a barbell like lifting it over their heads. The lifts have funny names, “snatch” is one.

Strongman: the one you probably watch on TV over Christmas. You’ve probably only seen massive great big giant men doing it. The events are very memorable, even if you’re not sure why they’re doing them; things like pulling a truck, deadlifting a car, or lifting a series of very big heavy stones.

OK, so the one I normally do is bodybuilding. I’ve done strong(wo)man a couple of times. Now I’d like to have a go at powerlifting. If I ever give Olympic lifting a go, you have permission to make me eat any one of my numerous hats.
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Which federation?

There are lots of powerlifting federations/associations (just as with bodybuilding) but I’m choosing to compete with the BDFPA (British Drug-Free Powerlifting Association), partly because lots of my friends lift with this association so I’m guaranteed to have friends at my comp, and partly because – as a natural bodybuilder – I’m serious about competing in tested sport wherever the option exists.

Full Power? Whassat?

At most powerlifting competitions, you can either do “full power” which means you have a go at all three lifts (bench, squat, deadlift) or you can opt to do just one lift.

Equipped or unequipped?

You can also lift “equipped” (which involves bits of kit which help you be able to lift more weight, such as bench shirts, knee wraps) or “unequipped” which means you can use a belt and that’s about it.

I’m going to do full power (yolo) and unequipped, because I just want to see what I can lift, and I can’t be bothered getting used to lifting in kit – it’s a whole new world of technique.
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What do you wear?
As an unequipped lifter within the BDFPA, I wear a singlet (kindly lent to me by my powerlifting buddy from the gym) with a t-shirt underneath, long socks for deadlifting, a belt, and any suitable shoes. I’ve got myself some Olympic/squat shoes for the…er..squat (obvs) and I must say they make a lot of difference. I really love them. They make me feel much more secure as I squat, I feel I can go deeper (which is important, because if I don’t go deep enough at the comp, my lift won’t count), and my posture feels better. The belt and I are not enjoying such a harmonious relationship at the moment, but it’s early days. I hope that, with time, I will be able to see past the belt’s tough, unrelenting exterior and that it might soften up and be more gentle with me. Until then, I will (wo)man up and deal with the pain!
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I’ve barely started training for the comp, but I’ll post more about training another time. I do bench, squat and deadlift regularly, and can lift OK weights for all three. But obviously I’m keen to do as well as I can at the comp. And training for just one maximum rep is very different to using the three lifts as part of hypertrophy-style bodybuilding training.

At the moment I can lift:

– 60kgs for 2 reps (bench)
– 100kgs for 1 rep (squat)
– 140kg for 1 rep (deadlift)

And yes those are all executed properly according to powerlifting rules – I train in a powerlifting gym and my training partner is a powerlifter.

I’d like to get the bench up a bit, the squat up quite a lot, and the deadlift up a fraction if possible.

Here’s what I need to do before the comp:
– get used to the belt
– make sure my technique is “comp legal” for all three lifts (hitting correct depth, locking out, pausing at the chest etc)
– poss smash belt with meat tenderiser?
– try to get my lifts/numbers up as much as possible (particularly bench which is my weakest one of the three)
– poss run belt over with truck
– decide on my openers (the weight I’ll nominate as my first attempt on each lift)
– decide how much I’ll probably go up by after that (you do each lift three times, so you nominate your opener, and then have two more goes on each lift, obviously going up in weight each time, but by how much is up to you)

Have you done a powerlifting meet? How was your first comp? I’d love to hear any advice, funny stories, dos or don’ts.

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Lift Heavy Things Up & Down Once is a post from The Fit Writer blog.

Nicola Joyce – the Fit Writer – is a freelance copywriter and journalist who writes for the sport and fitness industry. Her main website is here.


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