I’m 6 Years Old (So I Guess I Should Actually Blog…)

April 26, 2016

WordPress informed me today that this blog is six years old. In blog terms, that’s positively elderly. But a blog isn’t a blog if it’s not actually updated… so here goes!
the fit writer blog nicola joyce 6 years birthday

I’m not sure I’ve got a lot to say…

…so – for anyone still out there and interested – here’s a stream of disconnected ramblings about training, food, and my newest bits of home fitness kit.

My most recent blog posts were about powerlifting. Specifically the BDFPA full power Nationals in February (so long ago already?) where I squatted 105, benched 60, deadlifted 150 (but I’d like it to be known that I got 160 to my knees!) You can read about that comp by clicking the clicky <<< .

Directly after that meet, I really wanted to do more powerlifting. I had grand plans:

1) the BDFPA single lifts nationals (initially just deadlift, but then I fell in love with squatting and decided to both deadlift and squat)
2) a BDFPA qualifier, ideally with my girlbro Charlie, to qualify early for 2017 nationals
3) nationals in 2017

But then various annoying logistical issues got in the way – travel, dog sitters, accommodation – and I had to make an executive decision.

I decided to shelve my powerlifting for the year (I’m happy enough with the progress I made between my qualifier and Nationals), and to revert to plan B: get back to training, do a late qualifier (Jan/Feb 2017) and see how I get on.

What am I up to now, then?

TRAINING

I’ve brought more bodybuilding aspects of training back into my life (although my training has definitely altered since my time focusing on powerlifting). I’m enjoying doing a wider variety of exercises, and paying attention to body parts I didn’t have the time (or the need) to train as a powerlifter.

Remember “notch watch” from way back when? (No, nor do I really and I wrote it.) Well, that belt has long since been thrown in the bin (it perished – literally – after languishing in the boot of my leaky car). But I still wear my Inzer belt for heavy squats, and I’m down 3 “notches” on it since the start of the year.

EATING

Things got a little wild there out in the hinterland of powerlifting, so yes I am dieting, but very slowly and extremely “flexibly”. No meal plan, no eating out of tupperware, and no cutting carbs (indeed no cutting anything). I’m just paying attention to what I’m eating, tracking it, and working to macros. Carbs are lovely and high, and I’m loving life! I’m dieting to macros, rather than to a meal plan, but it’s a very “flexible dieting” type approach. Carbs are no lower than 180, and I got above 200 twice a week. I think I might turn into a rice cake soon!
rice cakes bodybuilder
MOVING

Cardio has made a re-appearance, partly to support the slow diet and partly cos it’s Summer and it’s a lot nicer to ride my bike and pull my sled around the field in this kind of weather.

(Sled from Celtic Strength)

Bit of sled work out on the field tonight with my push/pull sled, handmade and custom painted by @simoncelticstrength 👌🏼

A video posted by Nicola Joyce ✒️💪🐶✌️ (@thefitwriter) on Apr 13, 2016 at 2:45pm PDT

No plans for events/comps/meets just yet. I’m really enjoying getting some structure back into my nutrition and training, and seeing where it leads me over the next few months. If I end up in shape, I have the option of UKDFBA (bodybuilding) later in the year. To all UKDFBA competitors and the general UKDFBA “fam” – I will be at as many qualifiers as possible this year, and I can’t wait to see you!

I’m better at updating my social media…

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Twitter
Instagram

I’m 6 Years Old (So I Guess I Should Actually Blog…) 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.


Your A-Z of Powerlifting jargon

March 7, 2016

With my recent foray into the world of powerlifting, the content of my blog posts has changed. Just as you lot got used to “mandatory posing” and “bikini bite”, I’m throwing you for a loop with talk of “openers” and “bombing out”. Here’s my A-Z of powerlifting lingo.

(You might also like The A-Z of Bodybuilding Lingo and the weeing-into-a-cup content of The Grime Behind The Glam).

Attempt
The name for each “go” at a lift. In full power (see below) powerlifting, every lifter has three attempts for the squat, then three for the bench and then three for the deadlift. You have to declare your weight for each opener at weigh in or registration. And then you declare your second attempt weight after you lift your opener, and your third attempt weight directly after you lift your second attempt.

Arch
The funny posture powerlifters get into when they set up for benchpress. Why do they do it? Because it reduces the distance between point A and B. As long as you follow the rules of your federation (usually head and bum on bench, feet flat on the floor), you can have as big an arch as you can manage. The higher the arch, the less distance the bar has to travel to the chest.

Bar’s loaded
What the referee will call out when your bar has been loaded with your desired weight. That means it’s time to get on the platform (see below) and get ready to lift.

Bench
Benchpress – the second lift of a powerlifting event. The one most people will ask about when you tell them that you go to the gym. (aka “how much can you bench press?”) Also the name of the thing you lie on to do the benchpress.

Belt
One of the few bits of kit all powerlifters will wear. Unequipped (or “raw”) usually means you can only wear a belt and wrist straps (as well as your singlet and shoes, obvs). Equipped is a whole different world, involving bench shirts and other things I know very little about.

Bombing out
If you fail all three attempts, you bomb out. You can’t continue the competition, and that’s the end for you. So if you bomb out on squat (if you fail all three of your squat attempts), that’s it. Home time for you.

Carbohydrates
What powerlifters eat a lot of.

Cardio
Anything more than 5 reps in training.

Chalk
Either liquid chalk, or big blocks of chalk. Powerlifters rub it on their palms (to assist with grip, and to minimise the effect of sweating), and you can also rub it across your back where your squat bar will sit, and on your upper back and bum to help you stay in place on the bench.

Collars
The silver things that go on the end of the bar, after your plates (see below). Collars are different to clips (clips are the things you probably use on your bars in the gym). Their weight is taken into account as part of the weight on your bar.

Commands
What the referee will call out during all lifts. You will be given red lights if you fail to respond appropriately. Commands include “squat” and “rack” for squat. “Start” and “press” for bench.

Deadlift
The third and final lift of a powerlifting comp. The one which looks the least technical, but is often the most demanding. You can lift conventional (narrower stance hands outside your legs) or sumo (wide stance, toes turned out, hands inside your legs). The bar is on the floor. You walk up to it, and pick it up until you are standing up straight. The one which usually results in the most epic facial expression in the photos.

Depth
What you must hit on your squats. It’s deeper than you think. The top of your hip-crease must be below the top of your knee. Try it next time you squat.

Dumping the bar
What you mustn’t do if you fail your squat. Dumping the bar means throwing it from your back onto the floor. This is dangerous (to you and to the spotters) and could get you disqualified. Instead, let the spotters do their job. They will know that you’ve failed the lift and will take the bar from you. No harm done.

Flight
The term for a “batch” of lifters. Similar to “wave” in triathlon.

Full power
The name for powerlifting competitions where the lifters do all three lifts. You can also have push/pull events (bench and deadlift) or single lift.

Good lift
3 (or 2) white lights show after your lift. Hooray!
Hitch
One of the few ways you can fail a deadlift. Hitching refers to the small movements a lifter sometimes makes when the deadlift bar gets to mid-thigh. It’s a small stop-start movement to inch the bar up the thighs.

Hole (The)
The “hole” is the term given to the very bottom of the squat, when you hit depth. You need to be powerful out of the hole (so to speak) to successfully squat the weight back up.

Lock out
The final bit of each lift, where you make it clear that you’ve finished the lift. Particularly important for deadlift.

Lifter
You.

No lift
2 red lights, or 3 red lights. Sometimes a no lift is obvious (the person got stuck at the bottom of the squat, couldn’t press the bar, or couldn’t lock out their deadlift). Sometimes it’s less obvious (they didn’t quite hit depth on the squat).

Nose tork
Ammonia in a little bottle (essentially very strong smelling salts). Lifters sometimes waft it under their nostrils before a max attempt.

Openers
Your first lift of each exercise. Choosing your weights for openers is strategic and challenging! Open too light and you might risk having to jump up by too much weight in your subsequent lifts. Open too heavy and you risk failing the lift.

Pause
What you have to do with the bar during the bench press. It’s only a short pause (long enough for the referees to see that the bar is at your chest, and for the referee to call out “press”) but it’s very different to touch-and-go style benching.

Plate
The name for the large weights that go on the bar.

Platform
Where you lift. Usually just a small area of special flooring (to take the impact of weights). The platform will have squat rack or bench, bars, and spotters on it waiting for you to step up and make your attempt.

Rack
The bit of kit that holds your squat bar, ready for you to unrack, walk out (see below) and wait for the squat command.

Rack height

Squat racks can be adjusted. You need to go and squat the bar a couple of times after you weigh in, find out your rack height, and tell the officials so they can adjust it when it’s your attempt.

Raw
Another word for “unequipped”, this means powerlifting with no additional kit. Just a belt and wrist wraps (as well as your clothes and shoes, obviously).

Singlet
The delightful outfit lifters wear.

Squat
The first lift of a powerlifting competition. You get under the bar, put the bar on your back (not too low, as per the rules), walk out, wait for the “squat” command, squat down (to depth of course), and stand back up. Do not move your feet until you hear the “rack” command.

Talc
Just regular talc, but you put it on your thighs before deadlifts to help the bar slide up smoothly and to avoid the need to hitch (see above). There’s a technique to talcing up – after all, you don’t want to get it on your palms or on the soles of your deadlift shoes!

Total
The all-important number you get when you add up your heaviest squat, bench and deadlift of the day. If you compete full power, this is then number that matters.

Walk out
Part of the set up for the squat. The bar will be in a rack. You get underneath it and stand up to lift the bar from the rack. You then need to walk backwards so you have free space to squat down. This little walk is called the walk out. The ideal walk out is three steps: back, back, side.

Weigh in
The bit where you find out whether you should have laid off the ice-cream for a few more weeks before comp. As long as you are within your weight category, it’s OK. (For example, I lift as a “70” lifter, which doesn’t mean under-70. It means 70… or under. So if I was 70 on the day, that’s fine.) If you weigh in heavy, you have the opportunity to go and go a bit of cardio (or a poo) and try again. Or you can just lift in the next category up. If you weigh in light, you can’t move down a category.

White lights
The sight every lifter really wants to see after each attempt. There are three referees, and each of them has a “red” or “white” light button. They will press a button after your lift, to signal whether they assessed your lift as good or a fail. White lights are good. Reds are a fail. You need 3 white lights or 2 (of 3) for it to be a good lift. 2 red lights, or 3 red lights, is no lift.

9/9

How you’d describe your meet if you got all 9 lifts (3 attempts in squat, bench, deadlift) successfully.

Your A-Z of Powerlifting Jargon 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.


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.


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
FullSizeRender
“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?

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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.


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.


Training At The Workout Mill

December 6, 2015

As part of my strategy to break up the long, boring bit of off-season (i.e. the Winter months), I’ve taken it upon myself to visit different gyms, train with different people, and invite myself along to other people’s training sessions.

Today was a visit up to The Workout Mill in Leamington Spa, home of WNBF Pro bodybuilder Richard Gozdecki who is a Director of the gym.

I’ve had the pleasure of training with Rich a few times now: at The Mill, and whilst we were all up at the UKDFBA’s Caledonian Classic show a couple of years ago. Rich knows what I’m capable of and we seem to get along well training together. So, when he heard that I’m doing a powerlifting comp, he invited me to join him for a Sunday deadlift session because he’s training for powerlifting at the moment too.

Bodybuilders powerlifting? Powerlifters bodybuilding? Dunno: we just both really love to train. 🙂

We started at 7:30am. I arranged to stay at my Mum’s for the weekend, but that still meant a 5am start for me. #yolo or something. I can have a nap later.

Here’s what we did:

Calves:

Seated pin-loaded machine – sets of 15 + 1 double drop set (15/15) + 1 triple drop set (15/15/15)

Standing calves superset donkey calves – 5 sets 10-12
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Hamstrings:

Standing single-leg ham ham curl (4 working sets)

Lying ham curl (4 working sets)
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Deadlifts:

4 warm up sets

5 working sets (135kgs for me, possibly 280kgs for Rich? I lost count of the plates tbh) 3-5 reps per set

4 sets working on speed off the floor (100kgs for me, not a clue what Rich used) – 5 reps

Then I stayed and did some cardio because The Mill has a Stair Master and I’m weird.
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Now I have to drive home.  I am sending a prayer to the Gods of the M25: no stop-start traffic, please. I’m not sure my legs can take it.

Chat with TFW on social media
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Training at The Workout Mill 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
Here’s where you’ll find me:
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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.


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