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.


Crayfish Salad – (and some pretty exciting news!)

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Another interesting flavour combination to tickle your tastebuds!

Ingredients

  • 1 portion crayfish tails
  • 1/2 mango
  • Small amount of chopped chorizo
  • Salad leaves

I used half a pack of the crayfish tails you can get from Lidl, but I didn’t think to note down the pack size, hence the vagueness of my ingredients list! Also the chorizo I bought was a cheaper chorizo-type thing from Aldi of which I used two slices, but I know chorizo usually comes in different forms so I will leave it to you to deduce the amount to use. I found a little goes a long way.

I’m really enjoying combining fish and fruit at the moment, I think the fresh combination of sweet and salty works really well especially in these summer months. I have one more to try out before I move into a lower-carb phase (so no fruit) which I am very excited about, and will be sure to post!

Training of late has been a little frustrating, with my bench shirt difficulties and struggling to get to depth in my squat suit I have been feeling a little unprepared for the British. Sometimes all it takes though, is some outside perspective to remind me of my successes. Speaking to a friend of mine on Facebook I was reminded that although I have been struggling with these two lifts, my deadlift is sailing and the 130kg british standard is well within my reach.

I’ve also tried to remind myself that the weights I’ve been working with inn the region of my opener for squat and bench are still pretty darn heavy, and if I was repeatedly doing singles at an equivalent weight raw I’d be congratulating myself! Kit lifting is such a different game to raw and it definitely doesn’t always go right. I just need to trust that my coach is right when he says we’re just where we need to be at the moment, and the British will go as swimmingly as I need it to!

Which brings me to my next point, which I have somehow forgotten to mention in the past few days! Some very exciting news indeed! Following some email conference with one of the head honchos in the GBPF, I am delighted to announce that I have been nominated for selection for the World Junior Championships in Hungary. This doesn’t mean that I am definitely going, as my performance at the British will be assessed before I am officially selected, but I am definitely in the running. One step closer to my goal!

Although there is a lot of pressure for me to perform well at the British, I will have one less pressure on me in terms of my weight. I weighed myself at 52.0kg this morning, two weeks out and not even having done keto (though I have been restricting my carbs a little) I’m well on my way to being safely within my weight class. I’m going to let this be a lesson to me for future competitions; to start early and put less pressure on myself! It also means that the kit is fitting me more like it will actually fit me at the competition, as even a kilo can make a massive difference.

The frustrations I’ve been having with my kit, while putting me in a grump during training, have actually made me more determined to get things right and make sure I’m fully prepared and confident for the British. Looking forward to the next week or so of training and tuning up, of which I will keep you all updated.

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.

 

Back on track

Current mood:

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Training on Monday was just an easy deadlift session, working between 50-80kg testing out wearing my squat suit back to front for deadlifts. It made it infinitely harder to get down to the bar, but gave me a massive bang at the bottom of the lift, so looks like this is the way to go! Looking forward to seeing what I can achieve with this piece of kit. Had a well-needed day off yesterday, my body was in pieces from the weekend so I just took it easy. 

Back to MMA for the first time in a few weeks. I was worried that with all my time off I would have completely forgotten what I was doing, lost all my CV fitness and just ended up crumpled on the floor in despair. It didn’t quite go like that thankfully, but there was a bit  of crumpling after the ‘warm-up’. This consisted of 4 sets of: a short sprint, 10 push-ups/sit-ups/burpees, a short sprint back and a too-short rest waiting for 3 other people to do their sprint. This was followed by squat bounding across the room and back 4 times and a lot of pained expressions. I don’t think my legs have burnt quite like it in a fair while!

This difficult little activity meant that the rest of the drills we did were absolutely exhausting, when normally they would only have been a little exerting. We worked on arm bars from mount, arm bars from side control (popping up to knee on stomach and going from there) and finally a choke from side control. Ended the session with a short roll where I managed to get a few sweeps and finished it with an arm bar! Turns out my fitness isn’t so bad after all…. 

Making a few tweaks to my diet and training in the next few days to make sure I’m well within weight for the Welsh. Weighed 53kg this morning so got about 1.5kg to go to be well in (around 3 pounds hence the picture above ha). First of which is to start my morning walks back up again, I find it makes a definite difference to my positivity, productivity and energy throughout the day, so definitely not something to be missed. Next is to keep an eye on my portion sizes, I find when I start a diet my portions are fine to start with then they creep up and up as time goes on. Going to be super strict on myself, there are records to be set in the 52kg class after all. And lastly is to make sure I drink enough water. Not being at uni somehow means I’m drinking less, so need to keep an eye on that.

Not in work tomorrow so I will hopefully have time to post a recipe or two, but for now it’s bed time for me. MMA has well and truly whooped my ass tonight!

 

Sunday in the dungeon 2

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Such a beautiful day here in Bournemouth today, didn’t even need wear a coat while cycling to training for the first time in months and it was glorious.
Squats in the dungeon this morning, did singles and doubles from 90 up to 115kg which all went up easy. Then a massive PB of 117.5kg, which may or may not be to depth, but that’s for you to decide from the video! (Trained referees present reckon 2 to 1 vote either way). More to come for sure, my body is getting used to the massive stress of kit-lifting, I’m not even suffering from squat-death too much this afternoon. I’ve also found a guy who does wraps very gently but still gets them really tight, a gift from the heavens!
Finished the session with 5 at 90kg which were all deep and easy, then 2 at 100kg. Had aimed for 4 but my back said no. Chiro on friday put kinesio tape on my lower back which seems to have worked miracles in the last few days, but heavy squats seem to have set it off again a little.
Spent this afternoon in the garden with my housemates, a very pleasant afternoon in the sun chatting and chilling. Couldn’t ask for a better sunday really!

Squat death

No training update yesterday as I was afflicted with the condition that I have now termed ‘squat-death’:

Squat death: general fatigue resulting in an inability to move out of a horizontal position and vastly increased appetite, generally involves sustained moderate pain, aching and headache.

It seems every time I lift in kit I am out of action for at least the next few hours, and sometimes into the next day. Yesterday I was meant to go into uni in the afternoon after training to do some group work but I felt physically incapable of cycling or walking there, so walked to go and get the bus to find that buses don’t go on sunday, walked home and gave up. Spent the whole afternoon and evening on the sofa, eating more than normal and feeling generally sorry for myself.

Wore a slightly tighter squat suit in training which seemed to work better for me. Warmed up gradually to 105kg with straps down, then attempted 110kg again without straps but unfortunately failed it. I just do what my coach says but generally around 100kg we’ve been thinking about putting straps up and getting the belt on, so I tried it again with straps and belt and got it easy. Eventually went up to 115kg, a personal best. Not sure if it was to depth though, but definitely felt like it! Finished the session with several 3 rep sets at 105 and 107.5. Not many reps in total, but a tiring session.

Worked with another girl who was trying kit for the first time, and we both put wraps on each other, at our coach’s suggestion. It sort of turned into a friendly competition to see who could get the other’s wrap tighter, which was definitely beneficial when it came to the squats, but very painful. On my last set I even shed a little tear.

Next time I’m in kit I need to remember to keep my trousers nearby when I ask people to help me get out of my suit. Slightly awkward waddle to the changing room in my pants, luckily the majority of people had gone home by then! Whoops!

Sunday in the dungeon

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No training yesterday as I was at work, and unfortunately my gym doesn’t open early enough for me to get a session in beforehand. I guess it is positive that it does force me to have a rest day, as I have been known to go 10 days in a row without pause!
Kept my calories quite low to accommodate the lower activity level, but did treat myself to a little tub of wheyhey ice cream, high in protein with no sucrose. With 22g of protein per tub and sweetened with xylitol, it’s the perfect treat for weight-conscious ice-cream lovers like myself. Considering how clean it is compared with standard ice-cream, the consistency was pretty spot-on and the vanilla flavour was delicious. A little on the expensive side, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a guilt-free treat.
Training today was squats at one of our training facilities we call the ‘dungeon’. It’s small but functional. Warmed up to a single at 70kg raw, then into the squat suit. Worked with sets of 3, started at 80kg with no straps and no wraps, moving up to 105kg in 5kg increments, gradually adding and tightening wraps then adding straps and belt. Finished up the session with a PB squat of 112.5kg (see video above). Didn’t feel nice, rounded my back a little on the way up, but at the end of the day I got it up and that’s the aim of the game!
Missing my brother at the moment, he who introduced me to the ways of the iron. We talk online everyday and discuss training, nutrition and achievements but it would be nice to train with him again soon!