2015 European Classic Powerlifting Championships

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the first ever European Classic Powerlifting Championships held in Pilsen, Czech Republic and no words will be able to do the experience justice! Training in the run up to the championships was far from ideal; I’d had a nasty sickness bug and had been spending endless hours in the library doing uni work. A combination of these two things meant my weight dropped quite considerably, and I wasn’t able to gain any strength on my squat or bench, which both actually went down for a few weeks. Fortunately I had managed to maintain and slightly improve my deadlift strength.

Anyway, this meant that I wasn’t peaking as anticipated in the final few weeks and each training session varied in success. In a way this was a good thing, as I went into the competition having no idea how my body was going to react on the day and therefore not having too high expectations for myself, which took the pressure off a little. From the nominations I also wasn’t expecting to place very highly. There were times where I felt like I wanted to get it over and done with so that I could start a new training cycle and make some real gains, but in the end I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Competition day came after a few days away in Crewe for a work function, so I had been eating well in my rest week. So to my surprise I weighed in at 54.8kg, having been trying to maintain over 55kg for the previous week. This is a new low as a 57kg lifter. 11088267_10155384515225387_1147207446070201974_n Warm-up for squats felt better than I expected, so I didn’t need to change my opener of 90kg which I feared I would. On the platform this felt harder than anticipated as I lost my line and fell forward a little. Feeling disgruntled, I needed to have a little pep talk with myself about hitting my second lift and managed this easily, hitting an equal comp PB of 95kg. As this felt so easy I decided to go for 100kg. As you are probably aware it’s been a goal of mine for some time to hit  100kg in competition so I think I over psyched myself a little and didn’t go in with as much composure as I would have needed to get the lift. It was also really heavy! So this was a no lift. 11092710_10205618611638276_1728230939_n I don’t feel I have much to report on the bench. I decided to play it safe and go 52.5kg, 55kg and finish on 57.5kg, another equal comp PB. If training had been going well I would have hoped to hit 60kg for a third lift, but I felt like I would prefer to get 3 good lifts in than potentially fail 60kg. Watching some of the younger and lighter lifters has inspired me to work even more on my arch, particularly on bringing my feet behind me to get even more of a shape, which will hopefully help me to hit 60kg again sometimes soon. I swear some of those girls were contortionists though!

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I was most looking forward to deadlifts as it was the only lift that had remained consistent through my stress. These went exactly as I had hoped, despite feeling a little tough in the warm up. Deadlift is the lift that I find it easiest to get psyched up for, and that’s exactly what I did. I opened on a comfortable 115kg, went for a second of 120kg and then finished on the easiest 125kg I’ve ever done. Having struggled for quite some time with the first part of the lift I’m delighted with the speed of the bar off the floor (video below). I’m just glad I didn’t notice the song that was playing, as this might have ruined my pump.

I finished with a 277.5kg total, a 5kg PB and annoyingly close to my long-term goal of 280kg. This placed me in 7th out of 9. I was pleased with how the competition went, exactly what I could have reasonably expected on a good day considering the circumstances. ceremony

Possibly the most enjoyable part of the whole experience was the wonderful company I had while out there. It was so great to support and be supported by friends both new and old. The GB team was by far the loudest in terms of cheering and supporting our lifters, which got us some odd looks at times… (definitely not because of our fashion choices)

crowd The top-notch cheering apparently did us well as the female Junior team placed 3rd overall and the male Junior team placed 1st, giving the Junior team 1st overall. Some of us are still very new to the sport,and this was the first international for many. Also Sion managed to win gold on one leg. So a fantastic result for our team. team I’m now super excited for the coming weeks of training, there’s so much I want to work on to be able to excel at international level. My experience at my first raw international wouldn’t have been possible without the continued support from my coach, Paul, and the impeccable coaching from Lawrence and Pete while in Pilsen. And not to forget the European Powerlifting Federation. As you can hopefully tell from the photos and videos, the venue was fantastic and the competition was smoothly run. As ever, being in my final year of university I’m unlikely to be able to post as regularly as I’d like, so feel free to follow me on instagram for more regular updates; @susiebboo

Peace and Love

Goals

January has been a busy month. With assignments, my dissertation, and exam and ongoing training, I’ve had very little time to myself. I learnt from my experience of this time last year that it definitely wasn’t time to find comfort in food, as last year I managed to put on so much weight that I really struggled to make weight for competitions in Spring. This definitely won’t be the case this year, as I have been finding my way back into my weight class through Kiefer’s Carbnite protocol, which I will post an update on at a later date. Let’s just say that sticking to a structured eating pattern has definitely helped in terms of focusing on Uni work, but may have not been the best for my training. However, I’m a lot more comfortable in my skin and don’t need to worry about my weight at all, which is nice!

Despite lacking motivation at times towards the end of last year, I certainly haven’t been lacking in motivation the last few weeks. I think I struggle when I don’t have competitions in the near future to work towards, but this month I’ve been working hard for the GB squad day and the GBPF South Midlands this weekend. Training has actually been a very welcome break from Uni work; I’ve been arriving stressed and foggy headed and leaving having forgotten I even attend Uni and feeling great from the exercise. I’ll need to keep this in mind in the next few months as my workload is sure to increase and I will need to stay sane somehow!

I’ve bought a few new bits of kit; an SBD singlet which will make an appearance this weekend, an Inzer Forever lever belt and a pair of SBD knee sleeves. Purchases made partly due to changes in IPF equipment rules and partly to treat myself!

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My training has definitely benefited from the addition of these bits, particularly my squat. I had forgotten how springy knee sleeves are! In my first training session using my knee sleeves and belt I shocked myself by achieving a 100kg squat, which was a 10kg PB! As you may remember I set myself some goals a little while back of 100 squat, 60 bench and 120 deadlift. In the last 8 weeks I’ve slowly but surely managed all of them, starting with deadlift, then bench and finally my long-awaited triple figure squat.

As far as I’m concerned, I still haven’t fully achieved my goal as I am yet to lift these weights in competition, however this seems like an achievable goal for this weekend and I look forward to seeing what I can do. This would give me a 280kg total, a 15kg PB. It would also mean I would have added over 30kg to my raw total since moving up a weight class, which would be a big success! Obviously competition days don’t always go to plan, but I have every confidence that I will be able to lift some big numbers this weekend, so watch this space!

It would appear that my ongoing journey on the gain train has served me well, as after attending the GB squad day in London, I was lucky enough to be selected to represent GB at the European Powerlifting Championships in Pilsen. The squad day itself was a mixed experience, as despite not needing to I decided I would try maximal lifts. Having slept on two sofas pushed together, and not had the best experience travelling the day before it is no wonder that I wasn’t able to hit most of the numbers I had previously done in training. This left me frustrated, but it helped me to realise that going big is not always best. Lesson learned!

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As I mentioned before, I will be competing this weekend at the GBPF South Midlands, which I am very much looking forward to. I am in a novel and nice predicament of needing to keep my weight UP before the competition, and make sure I don’t lose anymore weight. It’ll be great to be able to have a nice big dinner the day before, and drink and eat at will in the morning before weigh in. Hopefully this will give me an edge that I won’t have had at other competitions, and will allow me to lift some big numbers.

After this weekend, I will be in full training mode for the Europeans in March. It is such an exciting opportunity, and will be my first raw international. If I stay on the same trajectory I actually might not do too badly! I am still yet to work out any specific goals, I am waiting to see how this competition goes and then how I progress in training in the coming weeks.

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I’ve got some nice low carb high fat recipes to post in the next few weeks, and I will work on a review of Carbnite too. But now it’s back to work for me, this dissertation won’t write itself!

Happy New Year!

Hey guys – it’s been a while! Hoping everyone has had a lovely christmas and new year, I know I have. I had such a nice time being at home with my parents and cats having not been home since August. There really is no better place than home – though it was odd not having my big brother around!

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Anyway I’m being a bit of a hipster and not doing my new year’s post on new year’s day – mainly because I wasn’t functioning too well after two late, alcohol fuelled but very fun nights with my friends rolling in the new year. I’m not usually one for resolutions as I’ve always thought why wait for a socially constructed time to set yourself some goals? Just go for it! But this year I’ve made some resolutions of sorts – or maybe just continuations of goals that I thought might make an interesting blog post 😛

So here we are; my new years resolutions!

1. Be kinder to my body

In 2014 my weight fluctuated a fair bit  and when my weight went up it generally wasn’t in a good way. Competition prep meant dieting and breaks from competing meant putting the weight back on after enjoying the ‘forbidden fruits’ a little too much. Of course this didn’t happen every time, and I did find a good balance when I implemented Carb Backloading however I feel I did put my body under a lot of stress. In April for example, what I then thought was a mystery virus, is now clearly a manifestation of overtraining combined with a caloric deficit. I went up to 56kg after a particularly stressful week in January and didn’t do much about it until around March. Then inexperience with dieting and losing weight meant quite a battle to get back under 52kg which led me to feel horrible for about 10 days or so with aching muscles and horrendous fatigue. I now recognise those tell tale muscular pains as a time to back off training and eat more – I’ve discovered that particular type of pain has no other cause. So in that respect I’m already working towards my goal. I’ve also made the decision to go up a weight class which I think will help me no end in the long run. Around the same time I chose to stop MMA which will also probably be better for me too – less minor injury and more rest from intensive exercise. I do miss it sometimes though.

Anyway this year I’m hoping to find – and stick to – a way of eating that gives me everything I need without compromising my health. I very much enjoyed Carb Backloading and am interested in trying CarbNite – or seeing if I can find the best of the two, as I found the strength gain on Carb Backloading to be unparalleled by any other diet. This is still quite a restrictive way of eating so I will have to weigh up my options.

Another way I need to look after my body is all the extra stuff that needs to be done outside of the gym – I’m talking lacrosse balling, foam rolling, doing yoga, assistance exercises and stretching. In the last few months I’ve become particularly lax with this – but like I said before, these are goals that I’m already working on. It doesn’t help that I haven’t had any major competitions to work towards, which usually motivate me to be a little better with these things. To reduce day to day niggles this is unfortunately something that needs to be done and if I want to be the best I need to get on it! I must mention though that having started doing assistance stuff in the last few months (though maybe not as regularly as I’d like) I’ve definitely seen an improvement in my lifts – particularly working on the smaller and weaker muscles. I have my wonderful physio to thank for these improvements and hope to continue in the same vein.

2. Be kinder to my mind

The previous point brings me on to this – something I have struggled with for pretty much my whole life. As quite a perfectionist personality I can be quite hard on myself when I don’t meet my own high standards and this is something that has contributed to some pretty difficult times in previous years. Thankfully that period of my life seems to be over and I’m happier now than I’ve ever been – however there is still a part of me that expects too much.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given is to be your own best friend. If your best friend didn’t achieve all they set out to that day would you be disappointed? Or would you tell them there’s always tomorrow? I work damn hard a lot of the time and I’ve got so much better at appreciating my own efforts, but I imagine this will be a continuous process for years to come. So every time I can’t be bothered to foam roll, miss a bench, leave the library an hour earlier than planned or stay in bed til 3pm I’ll tell myself there’s always tomorrow. And if I don’t manage to tell myself that then oh well, I’m only human! 🙂 (see, I’m doing it already haha)

This will be particularly necessary in the coming few months as I wrap up my degree – there’s going to be a lot of hard work involved! I originally aimed to get a 1st as I have been a high achiever my whole life, but I am currently sitting on an average of a high 2:2. I’m still going to aim to get the highest grade that I can but I’m not going to compromise my mental health to achieve a certification, after all I feel I bring so much more to the table than just a degree.


3. Be more helpful

Some of the people I admire the most are those that continuously help others, and I often find myself taking a back seat as I let others do the hard work. This year as well as continuing to improve my own life, I strive to help others as much as I can. Hopefully in terms of my goals this resolution won’t need to take a back seat, but this year will be the year of my own personal achievements and I’m not going to let anything get in the way. In the meantime though, I’ll be the one clearing up the weights at the end of the session.

4. Explore my potential

I know I said early that I work hard a lot of the time, but a lot of the time I don’t. I’ve been known to ‘coast’ and do the bare minimum that I can do to achieve. Maybe this is my self-critical mind coming into play a bit here, but there’s no harm in wanting to better yourself right? It seems finding the fine balance between this point and number 2 will be tough.

There’s so much out there that I can do. Every time I pick up a paint brush (which isn’t often!) I astound myself and I always wonder what I could create if I spent more time practicing and honing my skills. Similarly I wonder how much better I would lift if I managed to do all of my assistance exercise, keep to a healthy diet and train to the best of my ability.  This may also be true for my degree, though I feel I do work very hard already and I don’t want to fall behind on other areas of my life which are helping keep me sane. There are a few other things that this relates to as well so hopefully 2015 will be the year of achievement.

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Grow a big fat butt 

Self explanatory. This year will be the year that I grow out of my white-girl butt and grow into my powerlifters butt that I know is there somewhere!

2014 was hands down the best year of my life – I made new friendships and strengthened old ones, continued to enjoy and compete in a sport that I love and just generally had a blast. I have every faith that 2015 will be just as great – particularly as I have two of the best lifting partners to share it with ( @amyyspencer and @shax2 on Insta – go check them out!)

Starting the year on a PB at my first training session of 2015 wasn’t bad – managed a 90kg paused squat after achieving this weight as a new PB at a fun comp in mid-December! I’m hoping 2015 will bring me even more gains and I haven’t peaked early haha.

As has been the case for some time now I probably won’t be able to post as much as I would like to in the coming months due to that pesky little thing called a degree – but you can get more regular updates on my lifting, nutrition, and day to day antics on my Instagram which is @susiebboo

Happy 2015!

Peace and love x

I’m Back!

It’s been a bit of a bumpy road since the British Classic back in September (shortly after the Western European Cup), which I have yet to update you all on, and will do in due course! But for now, a quick update on the last few months and some things that have been going on in my life 🙂

After the Classic, where I didn’t make weight and weighed in at 52.4kg, I made the decision to move up to the 57kg class, which I had been considering for some time anyway. Ever since, it has been really difficult to adjust to the amount of freedom I have in terms of diet, and to not let this freedom get the better of me. It’s been a constant battle in my head between justifying eating anything and everything, because I can, and trying to eat healthily so I can look and feel great. Yummy food won this battle for quite a while, and I did manage to put on a fair bit of weight, going up to 56kg recently! Although I was strong and eating tasty things, I didn’t feel comfortable with the excess weight and did miss the routine of clean eating.

Getting back into clean eating was no easy task with this constant internal battle, so it has taken me several attempts to get it right. I’ve decided to go back to carb-backloading again, as I really felt this suited my training and needs. It worked wonders for my performance, and I found the high-fat daytime portion to be very satiating, and I hate being hungry so this is perfect for me! I managed to loosely follow it for a fair while but found myself over-backloading. Like I said, it’s taken a few tries to get it right, but right now I’m on the 8th day of the prep phase and going strong, not feeling like death like I did on previous attempts.

With this dietary struggle also came a motivational struggle; not having any competitions until the new year has made it very difficult to focus my training and I have felt a bit lost. Especially being out of kit, which I really miss! Thankfully, I’ve been able to turn this around after getting the news that I’ve been shortlisted for the GB international team for the European and World Classic next year! This was the kick up the bum I needed and I now feel back on track.

Despite feeling a little lost, my lifts have definitely been improving and I’ve been hitting PB’s all over the shop, doing working rep sets with weights equal to or higher than my lifts at the Classic! Here’s a quick video of a recent touch-and-go PB bench of 60kg:

To help keep myself focused I’ve set myself some goals. Time scale: ASAP. On the left are my raw goals, and on the right my equipped goals. My current best competition lifts are 87.5 / 52.5 / 110 and 127.5 / 72.5 / 135 so I feel my goals are achievable yet challenging.

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(100/60/120) (145/80/150)

100kg raw squat is a big one for me, as ever since I have started my coach has been saying I’ll be squatting it in no time, but I’m yet to get close. Having the visual cue nice and big on my wall in my room should be a good reminder to get my foam rolling done, as I’m truly terrible with it. I had a few weeks of not really doing it at all and boy did I get stiff and sore! I think this will be a big factor in achieving my goals, as being stiff and sore is definitely not conducive to massive gains.

I’m going to try and post a bit more regularly now, but understand that being in my final year of university might mean my blog takes a bit of a back seat. I’m going to try and take more videos and pictures so even if I don’t have time to write much I will still have some content to post. I still have videos from the Western Euros and the British Classic to post too, so watch this space!

Western European Cup – Borgaro Torinese

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Last Thursday I competed in my first ever international powerlifting competition and it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. In terms of preparation and the competition itself I fear I won’t actually have that much to write about as everything went to plan and it was actually the most successful competition I’ve had to date.

In the run up to the competition I hardly suffered from nerves – feeling mostly excited at the fact that I was going to Italy. Thankfully I had nothing to really be nervous about – I was confident with all of my openers, my weight was in check and knew there was no reason I’d be any weaker than normal. I’d also been frequently told that people often don’t perform as well as normal at their first international, so didn’t feel that any pressure to perform. I was just glad to have been offered the chance to compete for my country on an international stage, and hoped to do the best that I could.

Sadly having to avoid delicious Italian food on the first night to be on the safe side – I weighed in at 51.7kg the following morning. A little heavier than I’d expected, and the heaviest in my weight class, but I think travelling affected this. I had still been able to eat some carbs the night before and drink some water before weigh in so I was in good shape to perform.

Squat warm-ups went as well as I would have hoped, and I hit 110kg as my final warm-up and first lift in wraps. Thankfully I had a coach to do my wraps, as although I have hit some big lifts doing my own wraps, it always helps to have one less stress to deal with. He was a fantastic wrapper and did it exactly how I liked it – and tight! I went onto the platform to do an easy 117.5kg, then followed this with 122.5kg. Both went up without a problem and I was so happy to have equalled what I had recently got at the All England I had nothing to lose with my 3rd squat. I went out to do 127.5kg which was a little slow and grinding, and I hunched over a little on the way up; but it went up! To finish on a new comp PB was fantastic and I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.

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I didn’t have very high hopes for the bench press as this lift has been stalling for some months now, but I am definitely pleased with what I managed. In the warm up I did 55kg and 60kg as my only two lifts in a shirt, before stepping onto the platform to do an easy opener of 62.5kg. I really focused on my set up as I find this really affects my bench performance. I also kept a particular focus on the ‘second hit’; where the aid of the bench shirt comes off half way, to anticipate this and drive the bar up! This definitely helped me as both my second attempt of 67.5kg and third of 70kg were quite comfortable. I opted to go for 70kg rather than 72.5kg on my third lift as I was more interested in getting my lifts in than increasing my total. The big contributions to my total came from my squat and deadlift anyway!

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Deadlifts went well but not entirely how I had hoped. I knew in the back of my mind that I wasn’t likely to achieve as much in competition as I had in training, as in the gym you haven’t just maxed out on squat and bench! I was a little surprised when my opener of 125kg felt harder than anticipated but took it in my stride and lowered my expectations a little. My second lift of 130kg felt a bit better as I think I went into it with a bit more conviction, knowing that my body was a little tired. Although it is what I ultimately had been striving for, I think going for 140kg on my third lift would have been unwise. So I finished off with 135kg which was slow but steady, and the largest deadlift in my group.

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I finished with a massive PB total of 332.kg – a whopping 12.5kg higher than anything I had previously achieved. To manage this and get all of my 9 lifts in was the best feeling- especially in an international competition. Perhaps even better though was that I managed to win a gold medal! My achievements surpassed all of my expectations and I am thrilled that all my hard work has paid off.

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Not only did I win my weight category, but a few other medals and great totals from the other GB women meant that the ladies team actually won the team event! This is an amazing achievement as there were some seriously strong ladies competing.

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Perhaps the best part of the trip was the fantastic company. Our coaches were brilliant and helped immeasurably in competition. They also happen to be really nice guys! I made some wonderful new friends and spent some quality time with some old friends. A fantastic and supportive group of people to lift and socialise with and I can’t wait to share more lifting experiences with them.

Overall I had an amazing time in Italy. The competition was smoothly and professionally run, the crowd was supportive, the weights went up and much fun was had!

I’m very much looking forward to the next few months of training – I’m craving a 12 rep set after so many months of preparing for competitions. Also, I have decided to move up a weight class. The British Classic will be my last competition as a 52kg lifter, then I plan to get jacked and seriously strong! As I am sitting just outside the 52kg class now, this seems like a logical choice as it allows me some growing room. I’m also looking forward to the amount of food I will be able to eat – as the people who came away with me know; I can put away a serious amount!

A massive thank you to the Italian Powerlifting Federation for such a fantastic and well-run competition and of course to our coaches, for helping me achieve all I did.


Debut

So today was my final training session before my debut international powerlifting competition; the Western European Powerlifting Championships, held in Turin, Italy. I will be competing on Thursday at 11:30am. I’m not quite sure what I’m feeling at the moment. Could be nerves, could be excitement, who knows! 

My training in the last few weeks has been going really well, I have no major issues with any of my lifts and my squats and deadlifts are feeling stronger than ever. I feel comfortable with all of my openers, and feel confident that I’ll be happy with whatever I end up with, so long as I don’t bomb! I am in capable hands though, so am sure this won’t be the case. In my penultimate squat session I managed a comfortable 130kg (and went on to do a grinding 135kg) so big numbers are definitely achievable in competition!

As I haven’t posted in quite a while, this is more of an update post than anything else. My next few days will consist of writing and rewriting lists, packing and praying that I have everything I need! Thankfully a number of family and friends have been helping out with the costs of the trip, via my fundraising page, and I’m also delighted to announce that my employer Holland and Barrett have kindly agreed to provide my supplements for the next year. I am so grateful for all the support and well wishes I have received over the last few weeks and hope to do you all proud. Watch this space!