Tuesday, August 30, 2011

No Letting Up!

Meet Results
Saturday - what an amazing day! All the prep - training, nutrition, visualization...all of it came together for those three minutes worth of lifting. It really is amazing to look at everything that is done in preparation versus the time spent on the platform, but honestly - it is such a rush it is totally worth it.

The day went on considerably longer than expected, but I was still pumped when it was finally time to start warming up! When the flights were posted I was a HAPPY girl to see my name listed *seventh* in the flight of 10 people (mixed men & women). Lifting order is determined by the amount of weight being lifted. Typically, I'm first - opening with the lightest attempt of the group. Seventh was pretty hot, I think I even opened after one of the guys :)

Warm-ups felt a little rusty, but went along as planned.  On my last warm-up (a single at 250), my foot slipped a little on the platform and threw me off a bit. It wasn't a big deal, but being slightly out of position made the lift feel heavier than it should have. I think I allowed that to get to me a little more than I should have, it's hard to say whether it was from that, or the fact that I haven't been on a platform in nearly 9 months that was causing the crazy butterflies in the pit of my stomach waiting for my opening attempt!

I opened as planned with 286.6lbs and it went up! The video makes it look smooth and easy, but to me it felt almost disastrously heavy! It made me uncomfortable with the plan I'd worked hard on going into the meet...I was unsure of myself. As a result, I dropped my 2nd attempt from a planned 314lbs to 308lbs and then went back to the warm-up room to try to get my head back in the game! In the warm-up room, Thomas (my new friend and videographer that day!) asked how it felt, I said it was heavier than I wanted it to be...he offered me my camera to watch the video.  Didn't look so bad, but I would have liked to see it go faster!

Second attempts time and I knew that I had to go out there strong...reminded myself how 308 is nothing...easily done in training, no problem just go get it! Again it went up and, although it felt smoother than the 286, it felt overly heavy again! I thought I had my head on straight but here's when the doubt really started to seep in...I was saying/seeing 340 over and over in my head, but the feel of that 308 was fresh in my body..it was hard to fight.

I had to put my 3rd attempt in...I stood their unsure (aggravating the hell out of the attempt keeper - I don't know what that position is officially called, so we'll go with "attempt keeper" and call it good ;) just looking at my options. It's tough not having someone there to help keep you focused and provide feedback on the lifts! Doubt...ugh...I caved and gave her 150kg/330.7lbs.  What? Really?!  Yeah - I really did!

Fortunately, it was loud and she started yelling at someone else to hurry up and give her their next attempt when I finally told her mine, and she didn't hear me. "Huh?" she said, and in that split second, I really DID get my head on straight and remembered what I went there to do and I changed it...152.5kg/336.2lbs - YEAH! Now I just had to do it...

Back in the warm-up room, Thomas offered me my camera again to watch the 2nd lift. I wasn't sure I wanted to see it, based on how it felt, but I played it back and was amazed! It went right up..it looked nothing like it felt. That's great feedback! When I saw that, it all came together for me. I knew that the 336 was happening, but I'd have to go out there and totally attack it, just own it.  All my strength...everything I had.  YEAH!!

Finally came down to it...I went out there, I took my time setting up, deep breath then...ATTACK! I fought it, I owned it, I won it! What a rush!!!

Here are all three lifts:

Back in the warm-up room, I was shaking like crazy. A few people came up to me to congratulate me on that pull and I commented how much I was shaking. Someone explained to me - "you released so much adrenaline during that pull, THAT'S what is making you shake like that!" Wow...cool ;)  It's the greatest high...I wish i could bottle it and share it with you...

So that's it, in a very large nutshell :)  I took first place in the 148's open women, raw division and Powerlifting Watch posted this on Monday - it was awesome to find there and read where that puts me in the standings!

Back in the Game!
Yesterday I was right back in the gym working on my overhead press, and today was back to deads and my modified/hybrid 5x5 and 5-3-1 programming.

Yesterday - Shoulders
5 x 5 Seated BB Press @ 62lbs
3 x 10 Seated DB Press (one-arm) @ 25lbs
4 x 8 Seated DB Lateral Raises (first 3 sets w/ fwd lean) @ 10lbs
3 x 15 Face Pulls @ 70lbs
3 x 10 Cable Crunch @ 120lbs
3 x 15 Wtd Decline Sit-ups @ 25lbs
25 mins Elliptical

Today - Back
5 x 5 Sumo Deadlifts @ 255lbs
3 x 8-10 Low Row (Hammer) @ 45, 55, 60lbs
4 x 8-10 Close Grip Lat Pulldown @ 70, 75, 80, 70lbs
1 meager half-way up pull-up ;)

Tomorrow is off, just some cardio tomorrow.  It'll feel good...today went *really* well, but I could sense I wasn't totally recovered from Saturday.

Raphael has pointed out to me in the past that my focus tends to drop after the powerlift, I couldn't argue with him. Yesterday and today both I felt a shift in that, after Saturday I feel like I've got a renewed sense of hunger and I want more! I asked him today to continue to point that out to me if he senses it again, because I'm bringing my freaking A game to that meet in November...no letting up!

This is the face of no letting up!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ready: Mind & Body!

Today was weigh-in day before the big event tomorrow. I was all ready and feeling good about what was to be a nice, calm, drama-free weigh-in. When I left my house at 9am this morning, I was 147.2. Allllll kinds of wiggle room for a cut-off of 148.7 (earlier today I mistakenly thought it was 148.6).

I confidently and comfortably made the hour drive, walked in, stripped down (undies/sports bra) and at about 10:30am, hopped on the scale! *Drum roll* aaaaand.....wait, huh?! 149.0! UNREAL! Are you kidding me?

Soooo...off to the car, or, what I'm now calling my portable sauna! 90 degrees outside, August, mid-day in Florida with the windows rolled up and the heat on nuclear blast. A few minutes later (25 fairly excruciating minutes to be exact, only made bearable by the entertaining text conversation I was having with a few friends)I went back in to try again (I only had until 11:30 to gitrdone, else I'd have to either weigh in to the next weight class or continue to starve until 7pm tonight -- no thanks).

Stripped down...this time to sweat-soaked sports bra and undies ("oh sexayyy giiiiiirlllfrennnnnd!"), hopped on and closed my eyes! 148.5 - *phew*

So much for drama-free! No matter, UNDER the wire - I made it! Just another one for the lesson books!

I ate quickly after that, a giant banana and a protein shake, plus two bottles of water. I've continued to refuel & rehydrate myself the rest of the day, and now I'm feeling READY.

I've got a packing list prepared for tomorrow, and everything is packed that can be packed already, and I know what food and protein and other supplement concoctions I'm bringing along. iPod and camera are charging!

Mentally I'm totally in the game...visualization complete! I can feel the weight of the bar, I know what to expect from it and I can see myself completing the lift...I know how it feels at the top when I finally pull it through and lock it out! Physically I know I've trained and prepared hard, I know I'm ready for it, and I know I'm eating right.

The plan:
Wake-up, eat something.
Get dressed, pack up and head out for pancakes, mmmm. Should eat this meal around 9:15
Make the hour drive up to Port St Lucie, arrive by 11
Warm-ups: 5x135, 3x185, 1x225, 1x250
First Attempt (confirmed, meet is in Kilos): 130kg / 286.6lbs
Second Attempt: 142.5kg / 314.2lbs
Third Attempt (depending on feel of 2nd): 152.5kg (336.2lbs) or 155kg (341.7lbs)

All this prep...three lifts, three minutes tops! Totally worth it.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rock You Like a Hurricane

Ok, that's cheesy I fully admit it :) Yesterday I wasn't sure if this meet was going to happen, we were squarely in the middle of "the cone of doom" from Irene, and she was forecast as a Category 3/4. Today, she seems to have shifted far enough east to just miss us. I'm breathing a sigh of relief with that, but also experiencing some mixed emotions, as it just means she's headed for someone else :( All we can do is prepare and hope for the best, I guess!

But - as it stands, the meet is ON. The plan this week:

Sunday: off
Monday: squat/deads + cardio
Tuesday: bench/press + cardio
Wednesday: cardio only
Thursday: cardio only
Friday: off/weigh-in at 10am
Saturday: biggest.pull.evarrrrr!!

Monday I did a reduced volume/reduced intensity workout. For squats, 4 working sets of 5 squats: 95, 105, 115, 125lbs. For deads, 5 working sets...2 x 5 at 135, 2 x 5 at 165, and one set of 5 at 185. That's it! Here's the vid (note: new toy!):

Happy about my squats, I think my form is continuing to improve as I get used to this elbow thing (can see them start to slide back in the last set)and the breathing, but definite improvement all in all. I still have to literally FORCE my elbows down before I squat. The plan is to learn for it to be so habitual I don't have to constantly adjust..they'll just go and stay there.

Today for bench I did 4 sets, two with paused reps, two without at 107 pounds. Looking at the video, I feel like the 2nd two sets were much better than the first two, which doesn't make a lot of sense, but I'll take it! I like it :) Press on the other hand...ugh. Needs a lot of improvement. But here it is, the good and the bad!

Now? I plan: friday food, packing list, saturday morning food, first/second attempts...

Goal & Percentage-wise, it looks like my attempts should go something like this: 289, 313, 340lbs.

Kilo-wise (hahah), it looks like they'll end up working out to roughly: 286.6, 314.2, and 336.2 or 341.7 pounds.

And, I constantly visualize: the goal is 340lbs, 340lbs, 340lbs...
Definitely channeling some of the job search frustrations into that. I know it's going up...

And it feels gooooood :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ending on A High

So here we go...1 week from tomorrow is the DL only meet, and today I finished up my last regular training day with a strong leg day. This week went great - exactly what I needed to wrap up training and prep for this meet!

On Tuesday, RC and I went 5 x 5 with 245 on deads and every set felt better/stronger.
Here's set 4:

Bench went really well on Thursday too. Increasing at only 3lbs/week, I did 5 x 5 @ 103 this week. 4 of the 5 sets were paused (took a break on set 4). This is set 5:

I think going forward (for now anyway), I'll pause sets 1, 3 and 5 and go for touch & go reps on sets 2 and 4.

Today, squats went super smoothly! Definitely continuing to make progress there and I think it's going to make a difference. Raphael called me on my breathing today and when I changed that it up, once I got the hang of it, I think it really helped propel me up. No videos, went 5 x 5 at 115. I actually did a 6th set too, we were watching my form again. We'll call it a "diagnostic set" ;)

It was great to end on that note - feeling really strong. Just gotta stay mentally totally focused and in the game this coming week. I'll take it easy Mon/Tues/Weds, just a little easy cardio thurs & friday so I can really be well rested.

Big, heavy things coming :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

T-Minus Two!

That's two weeks, and I'm counting! I have one full training week left before my Deadlift only comp, and I need to make it count. This week needs to be 100% focused, 100% on - no distractions in the gym. Period.

In my own time-honored tradition, I went ahead and ordered a new pair of knee socks to lift in, although the ninjaaaaa POW! socks will come along as back-up. Awww yeah :)

One of the things that has been bothering me is that I haven't been happy with my programming. I haven't been able to find the right balance for what I think I need...something between JUST training the lifts (high volume on lifts, high intensity - zero accessory work), and ENOUGH training the lifts (lower volume on lifts, lower intensity - sufficient accessory work). It seems all the programs out there are one or the other. An example of the former: Sheiko or StrongLifts 5x5. An example of the latter: 5-3-1.

Ok hold that thought. I'm not through it yet, but so far it's been a great read. I'm reading the new eBook called Vault, by Dave Tate at EliteFTS. It's totally free if you join their Strength Club mailing list. And I will say so far, it's an excellent read, straightforward, and if you're reading this I highly suggest you sign up and then download the book :) Anyway - in the first few pages, this struck me:

While programming does not play as high of a role as many people claim, you still need to have a solid program designed to help you achieve your training goals. The difference between a general program based on what an author perceives to be effective, is a far cry compared to a program designed around your own strengths and weaknesses. Time and experience will give you the best training. Learn how to do this for yourself.

So apparently, I felt I needed permission to do this, but in an effort to satisfy my need for higher lift volume/intensity while keeping accessory work at what I think is an acceptable (and necessary) level - I've decided to build my own hybrid program. It's a cross between 5-3-1 and Stronglifts 5x5. Yep. I started this past week and I'll give it at least 8 full weeks before I make any decisions, but so far so good, hahah :)

For reference later, here are my starting weights:

OH Press: 55lbs, plus 2/week
Deads: 235lbs, plus 10/week
Bench: 100lbs, plus 3/week
Squat: 105lbs, plus 10/week

Percentage-wise, I started considerably lower on squat than anything else, but part of that decision was based on wanting to continue to try to perfect form. I started considerably higher on bench, because thus far working with percentages in the 60-70% range haven't gotten me anywhere, and another thing that Dave asks (repeatedly, no less) is "are you getting results?" "No?" "Well what have you changed?" "Nothing?" Annnnd there's your answer. So I'm changing things up.

Speaking of squat form, here's Friday's squats, fourth set of 5x5 at 105 lbs:

I still need to slow down, focus more, but overall I was happy with my stance, my elbows, and more more uprightedness (word, yes ;)

Another thing that's changing things up and I think really GOOD, has been training with RC. We had a little hiccup early on but we've gotten into a really good groove I think, and the mix is working well. I'm still learning a lot, and I found I push harder but more importantly smarter, with him there...but, more on that another time :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Last week was a back-off week and it was good timing...I really needed it in more ways than one. It also gave me a good opportunity to work on my Squat form. A few weeks back you might remember me freaking out about my squat form, where I suddenly saw it from a different angle and was HORRIFIED (let me say that again...HORRIFIED)!
One of the things I decided to really focus on was keeping my elbows forward (pointing down, perpendicular to the floor, rather than behind me and parallel to the floor) so I set out with a low weight and a ton of reps and I got busy!

FINALLY, I think I'm getting it. I have to mentally cue myself to think of someone almost forcefully pushing them forward and holding them there while I squat. This helps me keep my chest up, which helps me not fall. I think! We'll see as I work back up to some weight :) I also widened my stance (just a tiny bit), and brought my grip in (it helps me with my elbows).

For now...here's what progress looks like:
Before (Not pretty! Notice my elbows and how far forward my chest is)

After (Elbows! Chest (more) up!)

Makes me very happy :)

In other news, I have 2 weeks left to train hard for my deadlift only meet...it's coming on so quickly! Also, my girl Brandi is officially coming down for my meet in November, staying for the week on vacation, and then we're driving up to Savannah for her Oly meet the following weekend! A week long extravaganza of weightlifting, vacation/visiting, and road tripping...I mean *really* can it get any better than that?! :)