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!

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!

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!  

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 🙂 

Squat Progression

I haven’t been posting much over the last few weeks as I have been moving house! A couple weeks without proper internet and lots to be getting on with has left me very little time for updates, but I should be back posting a bit more regularly now.  My new house is lovely and I’m all settled in to a much bigger room, where I have room to foam roll and do my rehab exercises so I’m very happy 🙂

I will be posting a much more in-depth review of the carb-backloading (CBL) diet I have been following within the next fortnight, but for now I’m just going to say that I’m loving it. It took a bit of getting used to and I didn’t get it right first time round, but I seem to have got the hang of it now. I look and feel great, and I feel my performance in the gym has greatly benefited from it.  I would like to see how I fare in my competition next weekend having followed the plan for a month or so (including prep-phase) so as well as my competition write up you can expect a CBL review then too.

Training in the last few weeks has been a strange mixture between strength training and competition prep, as although I am competing at the GBPF All England next weekend, I am ‘training through’ and my focus is on the Western European Cup mid-September. I’ve been working up near max attempts, with emphasis on competition rehearsal but also working on technique and having a little more volume in sessions than I normally would pre-comp.

I’ve made the tough decision to have a few months off from MMA, leaving me more time to do assistance work for powerlifting and allowing my body some respite from the consistent minor injuries. My penultimate MMA session was amazing, I had the luxury of a one-on-one session with the trainer which made me anxious to come back after a few months. However, with the weeks I’ve had off I am starting to realise it may be impossible to chase both hobbies. I had a very enjoyable private session today with a mate which I will be doing occasionally in the coming months to keep things ticking along, should I decide to go back to training a few times a week, but for now my focus is on becoming a better lifter.

One thing I have particularly been working on in the last month or so is my squat technique; working on sitting back into my new suit and keeping my chest up so I don’t ‘crumple’ as much under the weight of the bar. I’ve seen massive improvements in my squat form which may be down to any number of things; new suit, new belt, new wraps, new CBL diet, new hand position on the bar, more core work or any combination of all these things.

 

I’ve made a video showing my squat progression. The first squat is my 117.5kg squat at the Welsh champs back in April, and the second one is a 120kg squat from training a few weeks ago. I came out of the 120kg grinning as I could feel such an improvement in my core stability. In the video you can see my walk-out is a lot stronger, my knees don’t go forwards as much and I don’t look so much like quasimodo on the way up out of the squat. I’m delighted with my progress, but there is always more work to do.

I’m looking forward to the competition next weekend as it will be good practice for the Turin competition, and I also have the chance to set yet more British records. I am very likely to break my squat record, have a chance of breaking my bench record (though I am not holding out too much hope) and I plan to set the deadlift record (130kg), which I recently hit in training. It’s something I’ve been striving for for a few months now and it’s well within my grasp now!

Just a quick reminder of my fundraising page where I am hoping to raise a bit of money towards the costs of my Italy trip, as it will be entirely self-funded. I have already raised enough to cover the cost of my flights which is fantastic, but anything else people can spare would be so useful!