Olympic Lifting Competition – Review

I did it. I competed in my first ever Olympic Lifting Competition. I waited a couple days before writing about it so I had time to reflect on the experience. I know that I have a habit of being very hard on myself, especially if I don’t live up to my high expectations. To cut to the chase, I didn’t PR at the comp, nor did I hit weights I had previously hit. I was surprised by how incredibly nervous I was, how much I got in my head and just how much it affected my abilities. I was pretty upset at myself at first, but after spending some time thinking about how far I had come in the past couple months I decide beating myself up wasn’t productive and it was better to be proud I had taken the risk and just focus that energy on further gains instead of negative thoughts.

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I got to the box that the competition was being held at at 8:30 for registration check in and weigh in. We lined up as they weighed us, confirmed our starting lifts and wrote it all down on a card. Maybe it’s just because I have a history of distorted body image, but I loved the fact that all of the women weighed in and had their weights said out-loud without batting an eyelid. I remember a time where stepping on the scale could make or break not only the day, but the whole week. To be surrounded by women who didn’t care what the number was and finding myself to be one of them was empowering. 

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Next I hung around with the two girls from my box who were also competing. They were definitely in a class above me, really strong girls and very inspiring. We did a typical Oly stretching warm up followed by individualized barbell warm ups our Oly coach had written for us depending on our starting lifts. They consisted of: good mornings, front squats, press, overhead squat, jerk, rdl and cleans (all with just the barbell). Then we slowly added weight doing 1-3 reps until we reached 5 lbs below our starting weight. 

They organized us from lightest start weight to heaviest. For the snatch I was 4th from the top, for clean I was 8th from the top. For each lift you stand on a stage, in front of a room of people in dead silence. There are three judges in front of you who determine whether the lifts counts or doesn’t by flashing a red or white card. You get three total chances at both the clean and jerk and the snatch. I missed the first attempt (what should have been very light) at both the clean and jerk and the snatch because I was so incredibly nervous. Both of them I missed because I didn’t lock out my arms at the top, but instead got the weight up with a bend in my elbows and finished by pushing it overhead until my arms were straight.  I got stuck at 70lb snatch and 110lb clean and jerk, neither of which were what my current PRs are. That was frustrating, but once again I just have to keep reminding myself it was my first competition and, hopefully, the next one will mean less nerves and more PRs. 

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A lot of people came to watch, both from my box and my coworker and the girl I used to workout with prior to joining crossfit. It was really nice to have all that support and people to distract me in between lifts. It also felt really great that they could have been anywhere on a nice saturday morning and chose to come cheer us on. Gotta love the CF community.

Originally they said that I had gotten 8th place (out of 18), but they later sent out an email correcting themselves and bumping me down to 11th. Another little bummer moment, but moving on from that. Now it’s time to focus on new goals. I want to get my “engine” in better shape. I went trail running the other day and died and I’m determined to go back and run the same loop in a couple months and have it not be a problem. As of now there are no competitions on the horizon (running or lifting) for the first time in like 7 months. I’m sure that won’t last too long though. I love having those goals to push me in my training.

How was your weekend?

Do you like competitions?

What motivates you to work harder?

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The Shoes Make the Woman – Reebok Lifters

My Oly shoes came just in time for my last practice! I ended up going with the pink simply because it turns out the black and white didn’t come in my size. I think they are pretty snazzy though.

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I spent the first half hour after I got them using them around my apartment, overhead squatting my dog and such. They make SUCH a huge difference. The have a good sized heel in them, so if you have tight calves/hammies like I do they make it easier to get into a deep squat when you are actually a bit elevated on your toes. Cheating? Maybe a little, but I’m hoping they help me get used to being in that position so I eventually won’t need them as much.

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This morning I was able to use them for my final Oly Training before the competition Saturday Morning. We did some light snatches, jerks, clean pulls and snatch deadliest.  They definitely helped and it made me wish I had gotten them a long time ago. SO, if you are considering getting some – DO IT. They are amazing. I can’t wait to train in them for my next Oly Comp, whenever that may be.

I am off to be productive in the less fun part of my life, aka school and work. But check back tonight for a delicious Bacon Meatloaf recipe. Layers of beef and bacon, what could be better?

Five Days Till Olympic Lifting Comp

Five Days. 5. That’s all I have until my Oly Comp. I can’t believe it’s finally this close. I am incredibly nervous and get knots in my stomach just thinking about it. Two and a half months ago when I decided that I wanted to make this a goal, I had snatched an empty bar twice, had never jerked and was cleaning 80lbs. I know I have come a long way, but it’s hard to focus on that instead of how much further I have to go. I’m hoping this competition just sparks more of an interest and isn’t discouraging.

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I have to submit my starting and attempt weights by Wednesday evening. You get three chances at each lift and I’m still not 100% sure what I want to go for. I was talking to my Oly Lifting Coach today, trying to figure out where to start/what to attempt. He’s gonna come up with a warm-up plan for me Saturday and he wants me to not go heavier than 60% of my max weight during practices this week. It’s really hard to stick to that weight, I’ve gotten slightly addicted to trying to go heavier and heavier. But I know it’s best to let my muscles rest a bit, and I’ll probably focus more on running/hill sprints to get my energy out while going light.

One thing I’ve gotten used to while prepping for this Oly Comp is being constantly bruised. If you follow me on Instagram then you may have seen the pic of my bruised and tattered legs. Every time after I jerk and I bring the bar down, I catch it slightly with my legs to absorb the weight. This means lots of little bruises above my knees from receiving the weight. Also, bruised pelvic/hip bones from thrusting during snatches.

Bruises on my collar bones/shoulders have also become the norm from receiving the weight during cleans. I’ve been promised these bruises will stop happening as much once the scar tissue forms and I have to admit I am looking forward to that day so I don’t look like I am getting beat up on the daily.

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The rest of this week I just need to focus on mobilizing, improving form with light weight and visualizing getting a new PR. And not vomittng from nerves when I step on the platform, thought that’s really out of my hands.

Do you like to compete?

How do you deal with the nerves?

BOX REVIEW: CrossFit St. Paul

At CrossFit St. Paul if you ask “am I doing this right?” you will get a reply of “you betcha!”. There is not “about 2 minutes left” there is “aboot 2 minutes left”, and you will most likely have some men who look like lumber jacks cleaning 285 like it’s light weight. Since I’m currently in St. Paul for the weekend, and didn’t wanna miss out on the last weekend before my Oly Comp, I decided to drop in for a WOD. The coach was friendly and welcoming when I said I was a drop in, having me quickly sign a waiver and jump in without having to pay first.  The gym is affiliated with two other gyms in Minnesota, CrossFit Minneapolis and CrossFit St. Louis Park. They all have the same WODS every day and (I think) have events together. I got a CF St. Paul shirt with a female, overhead squatting and it says “Strong”. I’m a fan.

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The box itself was a lot smaller than what I was used to, and currently under renovation, but had everything I could need from rings to kettle bells to bands to slam balls to the obvious barbells.

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The workout started with a bear complex (clean, front squat, shoulder press, back squat, jerk, all in a row, then repeat that 7 times). It was followed by 5 rounds of power clean –> 2 hand cleans –> 2 jerks. I did these with 105-110lbs. They felt relatively light, which made me hopeful of reaching 120lbs this  Saturday at the Oly Competition. We followed that with a 10 minute EMOM (every minute, on the minute) of a back squat at 90%. I am not good at squatting, so my squat was only 135lbs. The CrossFit St. Paul coach was very amused that it was only 15 lbs heavier than my clean. I don’t get it either, lumberjack Coach!

 

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There happened to be an open gym afterwards, so I stayed around. My coach from Colorado had sent me a WOD to do, with some snatches, overhead squats, kettle bell swings and burpees. It reminded me how Sanitas WODS always seem more to involve more cardio than any other CF Box I have been to. I was winded after and ready for some brunch.

There were a lot of people who showed up for the open gym. A lot of people with the “ATHLETE” shirts on, signifying their participation in the games. Seeing as how CrossFit St. Paul got an award for most involved (or something along those lines, can’t remember exactly) from last year’s games, I thought that made pretty good sense. Overall, it was a friendly atmosphere, smaller but with sufficient space to move around, a nice coach (might have benefited from a little more in motion instruction), mixed clientele and good hours. AND  they played my current favorite song. So that gained them some points. In case you haven’t heard it, it’s below. Hope you are all having a great Sunday!

 

A Week of PR’s

Well hello there! Sorry it’s been a while, it’s not you, it’s me. I’ve been ridiculously busy at school, work and in general  kicking ass and taking names. I know, I know.. I’m been cocky but I feel I’m allowed to brag a little since this week I got four PRs in Cleans, Jerks, Front Squats and Back Squats. I’ve had a couple people ask me if I am still doing the Oly Comp and all I can say is hell yeah, I am! It’s less than two weeks away and I am slightly terrified, but I signed up to push myself outside of my comfort zone and get a foot in the Oly Lifting Door, so here I am. I’m not expecting to do anything crazy as far as heavy weight goes, but I do feel like for me it’s finally all starting to come together. My squats are getting lower, my hips are thrusting faster (haha) and I’m getting my elbows up in record time (for me).

This past week I took advantage of the open gym at my CrossFit box and went in for two separate workouts on Sunday. The first one was just Cleans, trying to actually find my one rep max, front squats and presses. The previous time I did this I was at 103. That was one month ago. On Sunday I got 115 and was so close to 120! I came in later that day to attempt 120 again because I couldn’t get it out of my mind, but still couldn’t quite get it. I stepped away, did a WOD to take my frustration out and know that in a little bit more time that 120lb clean will be mine.

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I also PR’d with Front Squats with 105 (Yes I know its weird I can clean more than I front squat, that’s my main problem), finally was able to squat my body weight (140), which has been like a 7 month goal and this morning I got a 120lb Jerk. Now if I can just bring my clean up to 120, I will be all set for the comp!

I’m also going to take the plunge and invest in some real Oly Lifting shoes. My CF Coach had me try front squatting with 5 lb plates under my heels and it made a world of difference. I will definitely still work on stretching out my hammies so I don’t need that extra boost that the shoes provide, but until then I think the shoes will definitely help me and I’m looking for any help I can get before the comp.

Now, question for you. Up to this point, all my shoes are pink. I’m not quite sure how that happened, because I don’t own any pink clothing outside of gym items. Should I keep in the pink trend with my lifting shoes, or go for the black and whites?

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Oly Lifting Comp – Training Phase 1 (Partial Workouts Included)

I hope everyone is having a lovely Saturday and enjoying the slowly emerging fall weather. It makes me want to carve pumpkins and go to haunted houses :). To procrastinate the ridiculous amount of reading and homework I have to get done today, I decided to give you guys an updated on how my training is going for my Oly LIfting Comp.

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I just finished my hypertrophy (muscle building) phase. It lasted for a total of four weeks, with three weeks of building, then one week of unloading to allow my central nervous system to recover.  During this phase, I did one of two complexes that are designed to build muscle in each of my training sessions. All of the exercises are done back to back, no rest in between, with a weight that you can maintain throughout. My weight was 65lbs and I was dying by the last exercise each time. These exercises contain Front Squats, as those are an important aspect of the clean and will aid in snatches, Jerks/Thrusters/Push Press to build shoulder and back muscles to help in clean and snatch, Front Loaded Reverse Lunges to, once again help with the front squat aspect of cleans and build up my booty, and rows to increase muscle in my back.

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Each of these complexes/all my training workouts are designed by Rise Up Fitness.

 Complex 1.                                                                       Complex 2.

8 Cleans                                                        8 Total Split jerks (4 with each leg forward)

8 Front Squats                                         16  Front Loaded Reverse Lunge (8 with each leg)

8 Push Press                                                     8 Thrusters (full squat to push press)

8 Back Squats                                                                 8 Bent over Rows

8 Deadlifts

Each of these complexes is repeated three times. In between the complexes I typically did things such as kettle bell swings (to improve my explosiveness/the hip thrust needed with each olympic lift), farmer walks, jump squats (once again, to improve explosiveness/getting under the bar) etc. These are not my total workout, obviously, but were the one consistent aspect of my workout during those three weeks.

I am now onto the Strength Training phase, which includes less reps and higher weight. Even though I am nowhere near how I want to be on my cleans, I decided to give you guys a video of it anyway.

Things I need to work on:

1) getting under the bar/dropping down more quickly. This is really hard for me. I have a long way to go with my long legs and I’m not that flexible. Any tips on improving this would be appreciated 🙂

2) getting my elbows up faster

3) Getting the double knee bend – aka once the bar is over my knees they need to go back to being bent, not straight as they are now

4) Getting down under my jerk more/putting my shoulders back more once in full jerk position.

This is at 103lbs. I know that if I can only figure out how to drop down under the bar more I will be able to go so much heavier, so this is pretty much muscling it up. It’s a lot of small complex motions that requires a lot of coordination and work.  I’ve got 7 weeks to figure it out!

Double Trouble: Tips for training for a Lifting Comp and 15K at the same time.

I’ve learned three things about myself over the past couple months. (1) That I have way too many fitness/sport related things I want to try (2) That I have a tendency to spread myself thin and (3) that I’m stubborn. From running to lifting to swimming to hiking to climbing, the list of things I desperately want to get good at goes on and on. Currently I am training for my Oly Lifting Comp on November 16th and the Denver Hot Chocolate 15k on October 6th. Two events that require very different training methods and conflicting body types, all while trying not to flunk out of law school, keep my friends, and succeed at work.

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I’ve been having a hard time balancing training. Days after I lift, my legs are too sore to run.  If I devote too much time to running, I start leaning out and don’t make gains in the lifting.  While it’s not an ideal situation at all, I’ve finally managed to strike a small balance with these tips to get through double training:

1) Get enough sleep. I get made fun of for never doing anything in the evenings past 9, but I have actually come to love this lifestyle and rarely feel like I’m missing out on anything. (Hi, I’m secretly 60).  It gives me time to go to dinner/movie/happy hour with friends, while still getting home to be in bed by 10:30. Sleep is necessary to build muscle and will also reduce bad food cravings during the day. It also keeps me from drinking a lot, which leads me to point 2.

2) Don’t drink alcohol more than once a week.  Alcohol keeps you from making gains by dehydrating you (bad for muscle growth), lowering testosterone (bad for muscle growth), and slows down protein synthesis. Depending on how much you consume, it can also make you feel like you are going to die the next day, which is not conducive to training. As I have mentioned before, my body type is not one that naturally puts on muscle. So I want to prevent anything from getting in the way of my muscle growth. (My boyfriend jokes that I am always bulking, because I chow down on food in hopes it will help me grow).

3) Drink at least a gallon of water a day. Water aids in protein synthesis and helps your muscles recover.

4) Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t improving as fast as you want to.  This one is particularly hard for me. I want to be good at everything and improve on things right away(who doesn’t??). I have to keep remind myself patience is a virtue and if I keep going the gains will come.

5) Do short, but faster runs more often. I know I have the muscle to get me through a 15K, but it’s really the cardio aspect I need work on. I’ve been trying to squeeze in shorter (3 miles), but faster runs to build up my lung capacity without cutting into study time, work and without making my legs too sore to lift. So far it’s been working to improve my long runs I do once a week.

6) Find people with similar goals. It can get lonely if all your free time is devoted to activities you do on your own. Try to find people to run/lift with who can help push you through the times you want to give up and who understand the discipline you need to have to succeed. They also can understand that aspect of your humor and provide a lot of laughs to get you through training.

7) Stretching.  Foam roll. Foam roll. Foam roll. Don’t just sit and grab your toes. That’s like taking a knot in a shoe lace and pulling it tighter. Foam Rolling/Active Stretching helps untangle those muscle knots for faster recovery.

8) Supplements.  I don’t usually use supplements, I don’t even really use protein powder. However, today I bought BCAA’s (branch chain amino acids) for the first time. They are supposed to help muscle recovery. We will see how those go and I’ll let you know.

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So those are my tips to how I’m getting through this strange period of pushing and pulling at my  body in hopes of not having to cut one of the things I love out of my life. I truly get so much pleasure from both lifting and running that I can’t imagine not doing both. I don’t want to get to my competition knowing I could have given it more and wasn’t disciplined enough to reach my full potential. It’s just a matter of training smart, not doing things that will harm my progress (staying up late or partying) but giving myself enough of a break so I don’t get burnt out. It’s a fine line to walk, but I’m slowly starting to find my balance.