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.


Update on powerlifting training

December 19, 2015

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Four weeks today til my first powerlifting comp so I thought it was time for a training update.

Quick reminder for anyone who doesn’t know: powerlifting is the one where you perform three lifts in the actual competition. Squat, bench press, deadlift. You nominate your opening weight (the weight you’ll attempt for your first lift of all three lifts) before you start. You do each lift three times, going up in weight each time. You nominate your second and third weight once you’ve done each lift.

I’ve never done a powerlifting comp before so I have no idea what to expect. I know what I can lift in the gym but that’s not necessarily a prediction of what I’ll do on the day, what with adrenalin, people watching me, etc. Each lift is watched closely by referees and you only get a white light (“good lift”) if your technique is spot on. Squats have to be to depth, bench has to be paused at the chest, deadlift has to be locked out (there’s more to it than that, but that gives you an idea).

The qualifying lifts for my weight category are 90kgs squat, 50kgs bench, 110kgs deadlift, all of which I’ve done in the gym but that’s not to say I’ll get them in comp. Obviously I hope I will, but I’m well aware anything can happen on the day!
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Here’s how things have progressed over the last few weeks:
– I’ve been regularly squatting 80kgs and 85kgs for reps, 90kgs for 2-3 (although last week 90 felt very hard even for 1!) and I’ve done 100kg for 1 several times. I’d like to get more confident with squatting. I feel like it’s the lift which has improved the least, to be honest. Hm.

– I now bench 50kgs for reps with ease (which I’m very happy about because I can vividly remember the first time I did 50 for 5×5 – I felt like shouting it from the rooftops haha!), 60kgs for 2-3 and I got 65kgs for 1 with a lot of effort the other day. Last week I benched 70kgs to a board (powerlifting training technique) which gave me confidence. I’ve been doing a lot of paused bench as well which I actually really enjoy because I can feel it challenging my weak point in the press.

– I got a deadlift PB today! 145kgs. My love for deadlifting is well known (I never shut up about it). I’d love to set a new PB in comp but we’ll see. It wasn’t so long ago that I was jumping for joy about 140, so to get 145 today (whilst actually feeling quite shit after a late night last night) was very cool!

As well as working on my actual strength, I’ve been doing my best to work on technique, listening to the cues (so I don’t screw up on the day!), tackling my weak points in each lift, and maintaining some semblance of speed when things get heavy.
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And I am finding a way to co-exist peacefully with my Inzer belt. It’s softened up (a bit) and I guess I’ve toughened up. I just keep remembering that I only have to endure the pain for one rep at a time!

So, four weeks of training left til my comp. I guess one of those should be some kind of deload/rest. So, yeah, three weeks. One of which is Christmas/New Year/travelling/seeing family etc. Eek!

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Update on Powerlifting Training 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.

Chat with TFW on social media
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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.


Training and competing update

January 17, 2014

Just a very quick one from me this evening to update you on the deadlift/powerlifting comp plans.

Unfortunately I won’t be competing 😦

No injury, no crisis of confidence, no zombie apocalypse… Just work!

A job has come up and there’s just no way I can do both.

I have looked around for another drug-tested comp that I can do, but it looks as if I’ve caught the tail-end of the powerlifting season. If I manage to find one, I’ll do it! But for now it looks as if I’ll have to be happy with a solid block of training and a 140kgs deadlift in the gym (yep, after my previous training update, I went on to pull 140×2).
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I’ll finish with another leg session “enjoyed” by me and Lady P just this week. A few of you said you enjoyed reading an exact training session last time I posted one. Here you go 🙂 –

– barbell front squats 40kgs, 50kgs, 55kgs (3 sets of 10)
– barbell lunges 50kgs (2 sets of 10)
– walking lunges
– “red leg press” 100kgs, 150kgs, 150kgs (10 reps) then a dropset 150/100/50 (many reps – this was horrid!)
– nautilus leg extension – 4 dropsets starting at 100kgs and dropping as needed
– nautilus lat pull over machine (yes I know this is an odd one for a squat session! Lady P and I spotted the machine in the corner and were curious)
– seated calves – 100kgs
superset with
– nautilus duo

Training and competing update 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.


Off-season update: training, deadlifts and cake!

January 11, 2014

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Time for a quick update on my off-season training, progress and goals.

As per my most recent update, I’m still planning on doing a deadlift-only powerlifting meet (or just doing a deadlift at a full powerlifting meet, anyway).

Training for that has been going OK, I think. It’s sort of difficult for me to tell, since it’s a new venture and I don’t have anything against which to measure my progress. And my progress seems slow, to be honest, with my deadlift numbers creeping up in tiny increments. But perhaps that’s just how it goes? I suppose it would be a bit odd to increase my deadlift by 30kgs in a week or something. That would rather suggest I just hadn’t been trying up until now.

So, where am I with the deadlift? Despite once pulling 140kgs, I haven’t managed to replicate that in training this year. I did however pulled 135kgs just before Christmas (for two sets of one rep), and that was after quite a few sets building up to the max attempt.

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(Off-season means a max attempt deadlift session can be followed by cake with a friend!)

I’ve still no idea what I’ll manage to do in a competitive setting but I’m really just doing it for the experience. A PB (PR) would be great, but I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

As for my other 2014 goals, yes I will certainly be competing in bodybuilding again 😀 . I’ve chosen my “A” goal, and have also identified a couple of shows which I might do in the run-up to that show. All will be revealed in due course, but it’s safe to say that the very earliest I will compete in bodybuilding this year will be late August.

I find January a funny month, hence why I don’t blog much about my training. I never feel there’s very much to say! But if there’s anything you’d like to know, or discuss, please let me know. I’d welcome the writing prompt!

I’ll leave you with a truly delightful session that my new training partner, Lady P, “enjoyed” about 10 days ago. I do two leg sessions per week, one is more squat/quad dominant and the other is more deadlift/hams focused.

Quads
1) Barbell backsquats in powerrack
warm up sets: 40kgs, 60kgs, 70kgs
working sets: 80kgs (12, 10, 10, 10)
2) “red” leg press (no idea what make this is but it’s a plate loaded one)
warm up set: 100kgs
working sets: 150kgs (4 x 10)
1 fast set at 100kgs – 7 reps wide stance, 7 reps regular stance, 7 reps narrow stance
3) nautilus leg extension (single legs)
3 sets to failure (each leg) 60kgs
1 dropset to failure 60/50/40kgs
4) nautilus duo squat machine
3 sets (310kgs, 310kgs, 285kgs all sets to failure)
5) glute/ham raises
2 sets, using a resistance band

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(Top right is the “red leg press” and bottom left is the nautilus duo squat – I know this is a pretty unusual bit of kit, I’m not sure if you’ve seen or trained on one?)

What’s your main sporting goal for 2014?
And do you find January a funny month for training, too (or is it just me)?

Off-season update: training, deadlifts and cake! 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.


Training update: what’s next?

December 19, 2013

“What’s next?” is what a lot of people are asking me, now my 2013 bodybuilding season is over.

“Time for a bit of a rest?” No way! (a rest from competition dieting, yes. But a rest from training? No. This post-diet period is a great time to train nice and heavy, to make the most of the rebound, to allow the body to recover fully from tough sessions, and to enjoy the sensation of being able to train with plenty of strength and energy)

So, what’s next for me is another comp, but something a bit different. I’m planning on doing a powerlifting meet, but only a single lift.

In powerlifting, lifters usually do three lifts: benchpress, squat and deadlift.

I’ll just be doing the deadlift (I’ve chosen to do this because my deadlift is already strong enough for a powerlifting meet, whereas my bench and squat aren’t, and I don’t feel I have the time to properly train for the other two, given how short a bodybuilding off-season really is).

I don’t have any expectations, and I’m not doing it with any result in mind. I just love deadlifting, really enjoy training for this lift, and fancy doing it in a competition setting. Having this goal will give my training a specific focus, and training for deadlift will definitely benefit my physique for bodybuilding purposes too.

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Having said that, I do have some numbers in mind: I have deadlifted 140kgs in the past, and I lifted 130kgs for a two reps last week in training. So, I’d like to think I could lift 140kgs in the comp, but I’m also aware that nerves could get the better of me. I’ve never been to a powerlifting comp and don’t really know how it will all feel, lifting on a platform, with a referee giving the official signals etc.

The meet in at the end of January, so only 5 or 6 weeks away. Just enough time to ramp up my deadlift training, perhaps test my max, and then get ready for the meet.

After that… who knows what will be next? 😉

What are you training for at the moment? Do you have any races, meets, events coming up?

Training update: what’s next? 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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