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

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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!

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  🙂

 

GBPF Welsh Championships

The run up to the Welsh champs was a lot more positive than previous competitions this month; more certainty of making weight, more kit-lifting preparation and more people coming to the competition for support.
Spent the Saturday morning and early afternoon packing and preparing food, in particular a rather delightful lemon and raspberry cheesecake ready for consumption right after my last deadlift. It was quite tough preparing and baking the whole thing without tasting any of it; weighing in at 51.7kg that morning I wasn’t taking any chances.

Left Bournemouth around 4pm, arriving in Wales about 3 hours later to an amazing choice of food laid out by our teammate’s mother who we were staying with. I weighed myself to ascertain whether or not I could eat, at 52.1kg I figured I could indulge just a little. She’s well versed with the powerlifting world, so we were spoiled with a choice of roast chickens, tikka chicken breast, an amazing green salad, fennel cauliflower, sweet potatoes and roast mixed vegetables. To play it safe I had some salad, cauliflower and chicken, but as there was so much left over we all packed ourselves a little something extra for competition day. Such a delightful dinner!

Didn’t sleep as well as I normally do, but that’s to be expected before a competition. I got about 7 hours on and off, which I’ve found to be just the right amount. Enough to function properly, but with a little lack of sleep stress to fuel the day of lifting. Weighed myself at 51.4kg but again I wasn’t taking any chances so only had a few sips of water and a couple of nuts to tide me over until weigh-in.
Weighed in at 9am on the dot, desperate for some food. Didn’t even need to strip down, I was 51.8kg with my shorts and t-shirt on, so I was right into my class. Rehydrated with a carton of coconut water and some water, and ate a banana pancake slowly so as not to shock my body. Then for a nice sit down for a while until warm up for squats.

It was nice to have my coach, a few other Bournemouth Barbell lifters and a non-competitor in the warm up room with me for support and help. Warmed up to 70kg as per usual, then put my suit on. With my weight loss it was a lot looser than it had been earlier in the week, but knew my wraps would help me out. Warmed up to 110kg just slightly above depth, but felt good about my opener of 112.5kg, which I got with ease. For my second lift of 117.5kg we wrapped a little too soon, and then there was some confusion as to whether  I would need 117.5 or 118 to set a British standard so I was left standing around for longer than is comfortable in tight wraps, but then completed my lift and got it with ease though I rounded my back a little on the way up. Went to 122.5 kg for my third lift but unfortunately missed it narrowly on depth. I didn’t mind too much as I had got my record, so definitely a minimum target for my next competition.

Bench warm up was a little disheartening, with different equipment from what we were used to it was difficult to feel comfortable, especially with the added stress of a bench shirt, but we managed. I had planned to open at 62.5kg, but it felt a bit like a bad shirt day so went down to 60kg as it wasn’t going to influence my second lift and thought it best to make it a sure lift. So I got my opener of 60kg with ease, then 65kg for a British record. At first the spotters unloaded it a little high and pulled my out of shape slightly. I swore, which I will not be doing again as it could get me a failed lift, and got them to rerack so I could shape up again. Managed the lift with ease, so went to 70kg but unfortunately failed it as it descended ever so slightly on the way up. I got it up though so again another minimum aim for next competition.

Warm up for deadlift was a little tough as well, slightly fatter bars and a slightly slippy floor made things difficult, but again we managed. Warmed up to 100kg then tried my opener of 105kg, as I was considering moving it up to 107.5kg. It felt a little tough so stuck with 105kg, which I got with ease on the platform. Next lift was 110kg which was tough but not too difficult. Decided with my coach to attempt 117.5kg for my third lift, to aim for a 300kg total. There was nothing to lose as I was nowhere near a deadlift or total record, so I tried it and got it off the floor easily but had a little trouble locking out so unfortunately missed it.

I will post a video of my failed lifts at a later date, as they were all near misses I still feel like I have achieved them. While the referee’s decision is what counts in the end, with near misses it’s encouraging to know I could probably get them in future competitions.

It was a truly exhausting day, with all flights competing successively there was at least an hour between each lift. I even had to have a coffee before my deadlifts! It was great to have fellow Bournemouth Barbell lifters there to support and encourage each other, though it did mean I didn’t really speak to many of the other lifters. I especially extend my thanks to my coach as it was great to have his wisdom and support throughout the day. Finished up with a 292.5kg total, just a little way off my target of 300kg. Came first in my weight class, so my competitions this month have gone 3,2,1!

Pretty soon after finishing I tucked into my cheesecake, and shared it around. It was honestly one of the nicest things I’ve ever eaten, and I was so proud that I made it. It was nice to indulge as I am back to maintaining weight today for another competition in a few weeks.

Overall it was a great day, well organised with lots of impressive lifters, fantastic spotters, loaders and referees and a supportive crowd. It went a lot better for me than the South West competition, as I managed more of my squats, stayed relatively calm and I’m absolutely delighted that I managed to set some British records. I’m definitely hoping to break my own records at another competition sometime this year. Woke up with a fresh sense of motivation and determination this morning, but unfortunately no energy to go with it. We got back about midnight last night, and I’ve spent much of today horizontal as a consequence.  With a little more experience in kit lifting, I feel I can only go up from here, and I’m very much looking forward to the next few months of lifting and competition.

Chocolate Nut Butter Drops

This is a recipe from a fellow Bournemouth Barbell lifter, a third year nutrition student who’s heading to the IPF World Championships in July.  He’s been a massive help with my diet in recent weeks, and this is one of his recipes I’ve tried out for when I fancy something sweet. Check out his page here.

I’ll warn you now, these are addictive….

Chocolate Nut Butter Drops

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  • 3 table spoons of coconut oil
  • 4 table spoons of unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon of sweetener
  • A bunch of any natural nut butter of your choice!
  • Silicone ice cube tray (I used a penguin mould 🙂 )


1) Melt the coconut oil down and add the sweetener and cocoa.

2) Fill the ice cube tray 1/3 of the way. Freeze for 5 minutes.

3) Add a teaspoon of the nut butter into each cube. Freeze for a further 5 minutes

4) Fill the rest of the ice cube tray sections with the remaining cocoa and coconut oil mixture. Freeze and leave in the freezer until they are needed. Simply pop one out and enjoy!

These may be low-carb, but they are still high in calories so don’t go mad (advice that I need to take too haha)

Can’t wait to finish writing this post and have one of these as a treat after my deadlift session tonight. Got into my newly sugar-washed squat suit, which didn’t seem too much tighter so I may have to wash it again, and did minimal warm ups; singles at 60kg, 80kg, 90kg and 95kg. Next onto more singles at 100kg, 110kg and then an attempted 115kg. Quite easy off the floor but didn’t quite have the adrenaline necessary to lock out. Felt good though, so looking forward to seeing what I can do next. Went back down to 100kg for doubles working on pulling my shoulder blades right back and straightening out my back so I have less work to do locking out at the top of the lift.

Finished off the session with some easy squatting, tried another member’s suit one size smaller than the one I normally use and it worked quite well for me. Unfortunately I won’t be able to use it for the Welsh, but my coach is looking into finding me a smaller one. Warmed up with a few at 60kg and 75kg. Then put my wraps on for 90kg, and straps and tighter wraps for 105kg for two. Working on unracking and setting up with confidence so I don’t have another fiasco in comp. I think doing unequipped comp so close to the equipped comp left me a bit out of practice with equipped lifting, so I have more confidence that with the next few days of practice the next comp will go a bit better for me.

 

BDFPA British Full Power

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After spending all of Thursday evening preparing food and packing for my departure, Friday morning was relatively stress free prior to my departure, with only a few easy meals to prepare and some toiletries to pack. Weighed 52.7kg, so it was clear that my weight could go either way considering the previous two days of 53kg and 52.5kg, so I knew I had to be careful.

The journey up to the competition was slow but not too mind-numbing, got there in about 4 hours. I tried not to drink as much as I normally would, and when I ate I chewed slowly and stopped as soon as I was full even if that meant not finishing my meal. When we arrived I met up with my parents and grandparents which was lovely 🙂  They then went out for a pub meal, and I sat and drank a few cups of decaffeinated coffee… Oh the joys of weight classes.   A hot bath and early bed for me, managed to get a good 9 hours sleep despite my nerves!

On competition day I got up nice and early for a 7:30 weigh in. No food or water just a black coffee. Weighed in at 52.5kg, so well in my weight class and well on my way to my target weight for next week. Drinking and eating afterwards was a dream! Started the day off with a banana pancake made with banana, oats, whey protein and eggs. Also saw my brother for the first time since christmas, and met his delightful new lady friend which was nice 🙂

Lifting started at 9, being in a light weight class I was in flight 1 with about 9 others, 5 of which were in my weight class. It was nice to see a few people who I’d seen at the qualifier in Bournemouth, especially a very strong and lovely lady who’d been in the weight class below then, but has now moved up to my weight class. (Grr! 😉 )

Opened with 77.5kg on my squat with a dry mouth from nerves. My second attempt was 82.5kg which, according to onlookers, I pitched forward on slightly on the way up and subsequently failed. I then made a decision which was a mistake that I have now learnt from; being complacent and choosing 85kg for my next weight rather than staying at 82.5kg. I also thought that I could change my weight up to a minute before it being loaded, but then realised that was only for my first lift. All experience and learning I guess. So with my head still on the failure and not sure what to focus on, I failed my third attempt squat. I was never going to get it, my head wasn’t even in the room. Definitely something for me to work on; squatting under pressure. For me failing a squat is so much worse than failing on the bench or deadlift, and I’m not sure why.

I managed to gather my thoughts and go into my bench with a positive outlook; I opened with an easy 47.5kg and wowed the crowd with my back arch. I followed this with a 52.5kg press which was tough as I don’t think I engaged everything prior to the lift. It took some energy out of me as I then subsequently failed a 55kg lift; again I don’t think I was fully engaged. It didn’t phase me at all though, as a bodyweight bench press in competition has been a goal of mine for some time. So bench was a success!

Even more of a success was my deadlift. Warmed up to 95kg, to then do an opener of 97.5kg. Both of these felt a little tough but I think I am still used to kit lifting and the bar being quick off the floor. I also didn’t go into the lifts with much conviction as I thought they would be easy (silly me!) but after a quick chat with a lovely masters lifter I got in the zone. Pulled 102.5kg for my second lift. As this also felt tough for the same reasons I debated just going to 107.5kg, but I was assured that although it felt like it was taking ages to come off the floor it didn’t look that way from the outside. So I went for 110kg, a PB attempt. And I nailed it. It seemed to stop half way up, so when I’d finished the lift I was unsure whether it would be a good lift, but apparently it didn’t actually stop moving the whole way so I got 3 white lights! I really put my all into the lift and when it didn’t seem to want to come off the ground I let out a battle cry and that seemed to do the trick. I will upload a video soon.

After my deadlifts, the sense of relief was immense. I hadn’t been eating as I normally would throughout the morning, just having half meals whenever I could, and sipping a juice drink between lifts, so I needed to eat bad. Wolfed down my chicken and broccoli, and had a few other snacks then completely crashed and had to go and have a nap in the car. My brain played tricks on me and I dreamed that I still had deadlifts to go, so to wake up and remember I’d finished was yet another sigh of relief 🙂

Had a relaxing afternoon sat with my parents watching the heavier lifters, chatting to other lifters and snacking. I met some lifters who had been at the November competition but I hadn’t spoken to which was nice, I like that there’s a community of powerlifters from all over the country that meet up at competitions and support each other.

I found the atmosphere to not be quite as supportive as the Bournemouth competition in November, though this might have been for a number of reasons. Firstly, there were far fewer members of Bournemouth Barbell lifting at this competition, with only 3 of us there on the Saturday, where in November the majority of lifters were from Bournemouth Barbell, so obviously being among fellow club members would feel more supportive. Though saying this, the two members who were with me were very supportive and helpful, so a big thank you to them. Secondly, the commentating; the commentating seemed to be directed at the lifters and spotters, so the crowd were not as involved and ‘in the loop’, my parents said they found it hard to tell what the weight was and exactly who was lifting. Lastly, the size of the hall; while only slightly bigger than the Bournemouth venue, the ceiling was much higher, and much of the audience was seated behind a barrier of sorts so it was not quite as intimate.

The day ended with the presentation of prizes. To some of the organisers dismay many of the morning lifters had already collected their prizes and left, which I will not comment on. Each of the lifters was presented an identical trophy, regardless of their position in their group, and there were prizes for best male and female masters and open lifters. I managed to come 3rd in my category with a total of 240kg, a 5kg increase on my January total. I desperately wanted 250kg but I think that was a bit ambitious with my recent illness.

All in all a successful and enjoyable day of lifting, despite a few hiccups along the way. All experience in the bag, and now to look forward to the GBPF champs next weekend, where I will be competing equipped for the first time. April is a busy month!

Pressure

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Woke up with a burst blood vessel in my eye from the pressure of the bench shirt last night, along with bruising that looks like freckles on my shoulders, and various unsightly pressure marks on my chest and arms. Almost feeling lucky to be single, don’t know any men that would be attracted to such a mess on my skin haha. Have to say I’m quite proud of the burst blood vessel in my eye, shows I’m trying! Though I have had to ask on my mum’s behalf whether my eyeballs risk explosion, but my coach assures me they don’t, but we do need to be careful.
Hard deadlift session tonight, warmed up to 70kg raw then put the wide-stance squat suit on for 80kg+. 10 singles at 85kg with 20 seconds maximum rest between lifts, followed by 8 at 90kg and 7 at 95kg with the same protocol.
All throughout I worked with my coach and another experienced lifter on rotating my scapula back during my setup, to minimise the amount I need to do so at the top of the lift (ideally none). Managed to substantially improve on this throughout the session, still not perfect yet though. Next on the improvement list is potentially setting my hips a little higher before the lift, but that’s work for another day.
Finished up the session with singles; 100kg, 105kg, 110kg and finally a PB deadlift of 115kg. Can’t beat a 5kg PB. See video above. Definitely got more in me, seeing as this was at the end of a tough session. Looking forward to seeing what I can achieve next.
Throughout the session I’ve developed some sort of tender bruised lump inside my right knee, which I think may be another pressure injury and I’ve got some more attractive bruising on my thighs where the leg of the suit was. Less bruising in my hip crease than normal, so maybe the suit is getting too loose!

Coach has started talking more and more about getting me onto an international platform, and in particular going to the Worlds in Hungary in the autumn. Doing my first equipped competition mid-april at the GBPF south-west divisional, where we’re hoping that I’ll be seen and selected. The pressure is mounting, but I’m prepared!