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

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.


All England Powerlifting Championships

The run up to the All England was quite smooth; I’d recently hit a PB deadlift, felt confident with all my openers and didn’t have weight as an issue. I also found out it wasn’t going to be my last chance for my 130kg deadlift as I had thought, so this took some stress off (although this was in some ways mistaken – will come onto this later!). However, the week prior was full of travelling, life-sorting and trying to find someone to wrap my knees on the Sunday. All of this along with the stress of managing my mum at her 2nd competition on the Saturday meant I didn’t have much time to feel nervous, which I guess is a good thing! 

I’m still not sure whether the distraction of coaching my mum the day before the competition was a help or a hindrance to me in the long run; all I know is that it was stressful, exciting and a completely new experience! I’ve never fully appreciated the amount of energy that goes into managing a lifter at a competition, and it has made me all the more grateful for the support we receive as a club. Keeping a close eye on the clock, carefully selecting next lifts and making sure the lifter has everything they want and need is definitely not an easy job. Thankfully the stress paid off and my mum had a great competition, she managed 7/9 lifts and finished with a 200kg total (10kg above her aim) with a 75kg squat, 37.5kg bench and PB 87.5kg deadlift. I’m a very proud daughter. The whole experience completely drained me, but I used this to my advantage to get a solid 9 hour sleep the night before my competition, quite the feat as I’m sure many lifters will agree!

Another new experience for me was a 3pm weigh-in; I’ve only ever had an 8 or 9am weigh-in which makes it easier to restrict food and drink beforehand in order to make weight. Thankfully due to the success of carb-backloading making weight wasn’t going to be an issue. Hovering at around 51.7kg while still backloading, I was able to drop to around 51kg after dropping carbs for my rest days, allowing me a backload the night before the competition and to eat and drink as normal before weigh in. I weighed in at 51.3kg, the lightest I’ve ever weighed in a competition, in the middle of the day, and on creatine which can make you hold water. Result!

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Lifting was delayed due to the groups before us going on longer than intended, so we were unsure as to when we would actually start lifting. Although a minor hindrance, this meant that our final warm-up lifts for squats were a little rushed! Unfortunately our coach couldn’t be with us on the day so were relying on another coach (who will be coaching when I go to Italy) to help us out with timings and warm-ups. I was very grateful and reassured to be introduced to him the day before, as it meant I had someone to do my wraps for me, and also gave me experience being managed by him before my first international in Turin. 

The warm-up itself wasn’t the smoothest, as I think I had forgotten how to squat with my new technique a bit, and wasn’t taking as much time as I maybe should have to set up for the warm-up lifts. However, my final warm-up of 110kg was fine and deep enough which gave me the confidence to open with a very easy 115kg. Comp nerves and feeling a bit out of practice from rest days meant my form was not completely up to scratch, but still miles better than it had previously been. I then went on to do my second lift of 122.5kg which is shown in the video, setting a new u20 British Record. As this was somewhat tough and I had broken my record I made the tactical decision not to do a third lift as I wanted to save my energy for deadlifts. 

10514410_246741888869786_1518619450639784693_o We had the same issue with bench of not knowing the exact lift-off time until part-way through the warm-up. This meant I actually only did one lift in my bench shirt before stepping out onto the platform to do my opener of 62.5kg which absolutely flew up. My second lift was 67.5kg which was tougher than I had liked as I think I had my belt on a little high making it harder for the bar to come down to my chest which threw me a bit. Still got it up. Decided on 71kg for my 3rd lift attempt, as the record I hold is 70kg and felt 72.5kg was a little out of reach on the day. Unfortunately I missed this lift; lack of strength, wrong line, shirt on wrong…. who knows. I wasn’t deterred as I already held the record and had two good lifts in. Onto deadlift!

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Deadlift warm-ups ran smoothly, despite feeling a little tiredness in my hips and a minor twinge in my left calf, my suit felt tight and I still had buckets of energy. I was also very excited to try for the 130kg I had been striving for. My final warm-up was 110kg which shot up, so I stepped onto the platform to do an easy 120kg. Next was the lift I had been waiting for; 130kg on the bar. Unfortunately I didn’t get it captured on video but as you can see in the picture above I got it up! It wasn’t easy but it definitely wasn’t a massive fight. Pleased I had got this and with nothing to lose, I tried 135kg but my foot slipped a fraction and I narrowly missed it. Definitely got it in me! This left me with a PB total of 320kg. With the slipped foot and slight twinge before the deadlifts had even began, my left calf is now a little more than twinged so there is a lot of stretching and some rest on the cards for me at the moment. I am still walking and it only feels like a small pull so I should be back training in no time.  

Now is probably the time to mention my slight mishap. For months I have (somehow) mistakenly thought that the British Standard for deadlift is 130kg so have been striving to get it in a national competition for around 2 months. Thinking I had achieved this, I checked the records on the way home to see if I had managed to set a total record too. Turns out the deadlift standard is 140kg so I am actually 10kg off, but the total record is 322.5kg so I was only 2.5kg off which would have been easily achievable in the competition with another squat or a lighter third attempt deadlift. I was surprised at myself in that I’m not upset and am actually pleased I had the (mistaken) motivation to achieve the 130kg in the last few weeks. It also means I now have the 140kg to strive for at the Western Europeans, and having big goals definitely spurs me on. Operation add 10kg to my deadlift in 3 weeks starts now!!

I had great fun at the competition with my family, friends and fellow club members, and really enjoyed meeting some new faces. Some very strong ladies on the powerlifting scene at the moment. For such a massive competition it was run incredibly smoothly and as ever the referees, spotters and commentators were fantastic. My thanks in particular go to Arun who helped me in a time of coachlessness (although we did stay in contact throughout the competition) and without him I probably wouldn’t have been able to achieve what I did and maintain my composure. I’m very much looking forward to being coached by him at the Western European Cup in September and am very excited for the coming weeks of training! 

Another reminder of my fundraising page where I am hoping to raise a bit of money towards my upcoming international debut in Italy! Anything you can spare would be a big help 🙂 

Sweet Spot

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Having experimented a lot with my diet over the last year or so, at the moment I seem to have found a sweet-spot where I’m able to eat a variety of foods, including some carbohydrates, and stay full while losing/maintaining weight and keeping up my performance in the gym. Although I’ve only been keeping this diet for just over a week, I can already feel its benefits in my energy and satiety levels, the number on the scale and my overall satisfaction with my diet.

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An example of my day’s food at the moment is as follows:

8am: black coffee with tbsp coconut oil

10am: 3 tbsp low-fat fromage frais with fruit and seeds

11:30am: portion of shepherdess pie (recipe to follow)

2:30pm: mackerel salad (recipe to follow)

5pm: banana pancake (banana, 2 eggs, 1/2 scoop casein)

8pm: (post-training) baked potato with tin of tuna, low-fat cream cheese and asparagus

I’ve found that having my coffee then waiting a few hours to eat to be better than getting up and eating straight away, as I’m able to do my fasted low intensity steady state (LISS) cardio (walking in the park) and work up a small appetite for my first meal, which is still only small. Low fat fromage frais has been a god-send find, as it is cheap (£1 for 500g) and boasts better macros than other low-fat yoghurts, beaten only by 0% greek yoghurt in my opinion. Perfect as a scrimper’s alternative. Having banished fruit (bar bananas) from my diet for months, it’s nice to have something sweet in my diet once more, though I do feel like a classic white-girl dieter having fruit and yoghurt for breakfast!

I’ve successfully made my way down to sub 53kg, with a few weeks to go and still eating carbs. If I continue in the same vein I’ll be comfortably into my category and still be able to maintain my strength. I attribute this weight loss (over a kilo in just over a week) to consistently walking in the morning, a clean and consistent diet, and an increase in my fluid intake.

With the added benefit of being LISS cardio, I’ve found walking in the park to be a great way to start the day, as it gives me time to enjoy the greenery, organise my thoughts and wake up a bit before I start the day. `I cannot recommend it enough to anyone that gets a bit frazzled and bogged down with their to-do list, and it’s been suggested that it can help lift your spirits too. I’ve also been working on a small personal goal, which I’m not going to divulge now (because of this TED video), but which I will hopefully be able to showcase sometime in the near future!

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As it’s getting rather hot down here in Bournemouth at the moment, I’ve needed to increase my fluid intake, which has probably also helped with my weight management. Water is such a vital part of our health, yet I was almost surprised to find it in my 200 super foods book. It’s the most absolutely essential part of our diet, but some of us still walk around unknowingly dehydrated on a daily basis. Even mild dehydration can impair both physical and mental performance, so make sure you’re getting enough water. I try and aim for at least 3 litres per day, and increase this in the warm weather.

Although I’ve reduced the amount I’ve been posting recently, this is hopefully for the better. I’m trying to make sure I post more quality rather than quantity, as even I found reading my regular training updates a little tedious. So hopefully the quality of my blog will improve and I can continue to regale you with the life of a 20 year old powerlifter without boring your socks off  🙂

 

Tough

Although training this week has just been competition prep, which is normally not too taxing, it has been really tough for a number of reasons.

Monday’s bench session was frustrating as while I’d had a really good bench session on Friday and even hit some PB’s, it just wasn’t working for me. I was struggling with weights around 60kg which I’m looking to open with. Apparently when lifting off my chest I was pushing slightly away from me, making the lift harder. Frustratingly I couldn’t feel what I was doing wrong, so didn’t know what to do to rectify it. The session left me feeling frustrated and under-prepared but I was happy with the knowledge that I still had Wednesday’s session to sort things.

Tuesday’s session was final squat preparation. The fact that I’d recently washed my suit in a lot of sugar made it a lot harder to get down to depth than it had ever been before. I struggled with having the straps down, due to the tightness of the suit, so I had to put straps up before I normally would. I was seeing stars at mid-depth, and it felt like I was right down deep. Finally managed to get to depth with 115kg, it felt like I was literally folding myself in half to get down, but I got there. Coach was being very tough on me and not taking any excuses I had as to why I wasn’t getting to depth. It was a difficult session but I know it was for my own good. Worked up to 125kg and decided on 112.5kg as my opener, just to make sure I can hit depth. Got some pretty hefty bruises from the session, the picture below just doesn’t do them justice. Ended up with some speckled bruising up my face from the pressure too, which was new!

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With my squat suit being that tight, and having just washed it again, I’m slightly concerned how it will work for deadlift on the weekend, but we shall have to see.

Yesterday’s bench session went a lot better, managing to get up to 67.5kg with ease and deciding on my opener of 62.5kg. Attempted 72.5kg again, didn’t quite get it but it’s definitely an option for competition. Though I need to hit 65kg for a British standard first! It was a bit strange just doing 4 lifts or so and heading home, but I was happy to as I’d been at work all day and just wanted a cup of tea and the sofa! Actually savoured a day off today rather than itching to get out and do something, Kit lifting can be brutal…

Bodyweight is fluctuating around 52.6kg at the moment, hoping I’ll be able to drop in during the next few days. Testing my true morning weight again tomorrow morning, so no food or drink for me at the moment. Not too bothered though as I’ll be going to bed pretty soon, getting up early for a work training day tomorrow. I’m hoping to have time to post another recipe tomorrow, watch this space!

Easter Sunday: the bar has risen!

With the competition one week away today, training was working on competition lift rehearsals and routine practice for squats; rolling, wrapping, squatting and unwrapping. Currently suffering from squat death right now for the first time in ages, so I apologise for any upcoming errors or nonsense.

Warmed up to 70kg raw which felt a little tough, my thighs are still a little sore from the week’s work. Then put my newly crispy squat suit on, but with my weight on its way down it still felt a little too loose. Did 80kg and 90kg with suit bottom and no wraps and then 100kg with suit and loose wraps. With the suit still feeling a little loose, decided to turn it around which is how I’ve been tightening it for deadlifts. This seemed to work a treat as I did 100kg again and it seemed to be a little easier. Psychosomatic or not, it worked. Next squats were 107.5kg, 112.5kg and 117.5kg, with tight wraps. All quite easy but not quite to depth, and inch or so to go. For my next lifts I recruited an even tighter wrapper, for a PB attempt of 120kg. Managed this with ease but apparently only hit parallel, so kept on moving up! Starting to learn to relax into the pain of being wrapped, I’ve found plastering an angelic smile on my face does the trick.

Next were the big lifts of the day; 125kg to parallel, followed by a whopping 12.5kg PB of 130kg, which felt easy and was to depth too! Couldn’t ask for anything more out of a Sunday in the dungeon. Well, I guess 130kg+ but we’ll see 😉

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Now back home with horrendously painful legs; bruises around the wrapping site which I’ve not had before, and raw skin. The picture doesn’t do it justice! Going to have a bath then slather a bucket full of Savlon on them and see if that helps anything. A few cups of tea are in order too as a fair bit of noisy growling was necessary during my session today; firstly due to the pain of being wrapped, and secondly due to the pain of pushing down into the wraps to get to depth! So now my throat is a little raw to say the least…

Made the executive decision (with some help from a friend) that some carbs were allowed after my gruelling session, so I’ve had a small banana and one chocolate. I know how to treat myself on Easter Sunday! I have to say it’s been nice to treat my housemates to a mini egg hunt that they didn’t expect, and I’d rather have that pleasure over the nausea of eating too much chocolate. I feel really positive about my weight and the competition next week, so I savoured my 1 chocolate and small banana in the knowledge that I was doing everything I could today to better myself for tomorrow. A little motivation to conclude my 50th post 🙂

Sneaky

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Such a weirdly proud feeling hanging out my freshly sugar-washed kit to get nice and crispy in the sun! Managing to get my weight down slowly slowly so need my kit as tight as possible. It would seem my bench shirt is doing its job already though; managed a cheeky PB yesterday morning…

Training was in the morning as it was Good Friday, had a really tough bench session down at the track. Warmed up to 45kg raw then put my shirt on for more warm ups at 50kg, 55kg, 60kg and some toughies at 65kg and 67.5kg. My coach really had me working hard under stress, with 70kg the bar I did a strict press, then immediately shaped up and did 65kg, and again for 60kg and 55kg. One after the other; immediate. More than anything my quads were on fire after the tough conditioning and deadlift sessions earlier in the week. Never have I known my legs so much in a bench session!

Next my coach was so so sneaky, he had be ready to do the same thing again which I completed with a lot of effort and some weird noises, but he’d sneakily got the loaders to put 72.5kg on the bar! Just goes to show it’s all in the head…I had no idea it was a PB attempt so I just went in same as normal and I got it, and more!

Finished the session with a couple more strict presses, attempting 75kg but only getting it with a little help from my coach. All of this was with a super tired body, so I think I’ve definitely got more in the bag. Really exhausting session, left me needing a nap which I’ve never needed after bench before. Was definitely happy to have a rest day today!

Been a little bit sneaky today myself and hidden some chocolate eggs around my housemate’s rooms… Unfortunately I can’t have any myself as I’m really determined to get into the 52kg class, but I love to treat other people so hopefully they appreciate the work of the house Easter bunny… 🙂 Happy Easter everyone! I’m hoping Easter Sunday will bring me some big squats!