Tag Archives: strongwoman

More thoughts and where to go from here.

Not moving on just yet as I wanted to discuss the competition a little more. Having read back my previous blog post it sounds a little clinical. Of course I didn’t feel clinical on the day but I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I would be, it helped that I knew (apart from the farmers walk) I was more than capable of doing the weights for at least one rep. In fact I would say the log press and the sandbag were fun, that I was looking forward to doing them. But maybe it was because the competition was just an end point, the true journey had been getting there. That sounds corny but the amount I have learnt this year about body image, about mental and physical strength, about liking who I am and not striving for something I will never look like, about having an opinion and taking up space. Now some will say well yes of course you could look like the fitspo if you really really wanted it ( just *cough* 10 years older and with a head) but part of the journey has been learning that I am awesome the way I am. Thanks to the fact I had to weigh in when considering the U75kg category I know I am, weight wise, the heaviest I have been in a long time. I also know I don’t care. I wear clothes I wouldn’t have touched in my 20s and basically couldn’t give a fuck what people think of what I wear or what it looks like to them. I carry myself differently. I think the most important thing I have learnt is what other people think of me is none of my business, a liberating concept. I am not having to fake it anymore.

Things I learnt at the competition.

  • When you do lifts you need to wait for the command to put the weight down.
  • How to pace myself. The first event, Zercher Squats, went up in 5kg increments that you could skip if you wanted to. I knew my PB in the gym was 95kg but I also know I am shit at going in and lifting heavy straight off, I need to work up to a weight so basically I did every squat from 75kg which helped exhaust my legs. That’s not to say I wouldn’t have still failed the 110kg but it would have made more sense to skip every other weight so I went up in 10kg increments.
  • Sometimes you will fail an event, this is not the end of the world. Find a corner, let the exasperation out and then move on. Do not let it fuck with your head for other events.
  • That I really have to work on my lower body strength. I need to shut up and squat. My coach will be delighted to hear me say that but sceptical about whether it will happen!
  • How awesome it is to be surrounded by women who think picking up heavy weights is fun and who support each other in there attempts.

Whilst a small blog I do want to give a big shout out to Progressive Training Systems in Northampton who organised the event and also to Bridge Road Barbell in Camberley where I train. Both amazing gyms if you are looking to lift heavy in a supportive and friendly atmosphere. Please don’t think oh they will be filled with big sweaty men and I won’t fit in. They will be filled with big sweaty men but as long as you want to learn how to lift you will be welcomed with open arms and supported on your journey.

Right that’s the soppy stuff out of the way. I have been to the gym twice this week but with the aim to exercise not to train.
Tuesday: 100rep KB Clean & Press 12kg warm up followed by circuit done 5 times of 10 red band press ups, 10 inverted rows and 12 stepping dumbbell lunges (5kg each hand).
Thursday: Quick 5x5x40kg squats 5x20x15kg step ups.

What next? I am not competing again this year, it was fun and I’m so glad I started this journey and it is still a work in progressive but I am taking the foot off the gas a little. I will be training 3 times a week an hour a time over the winter with the majority of the work probably being lower body *sob*.  My family are looking to move house, I am starting some volunteer work and trying to grow my business a little more, so lots going on. I will still be blogging about my training interspersed with photos of my children and rants. My coach pointed out that after one particular post of mine ranting about body shaming was an link to an article that did just that. WordPress is free, it needs to make money, i get it but I am now moving to the following URL http://http://diaryofanewbiestrongwoman.co.uk/ and I hope to see you there!

Average Mum.

Wow. What a day.  With ups and downs and a medal at the end.

It was a long day.

Event 1 – Zercher Squat.  I got up to 105kg which is a 15kg pb for me, so I am moderately pleased with that but oh my god, there were girls in the U75kg category lifting twice their body weight. It was awesome to watch.

Event 2 – Log press AMRAP 40kg 75secs . I wasn’t nervous of this event until I got there and saw the size of the log. It was a beast, about twice the width I am used to pressing. I decided to clean it during warm up but not press it as if I had failed the press it would have messed with my mind for the actual event. In the end I finished the event beaming as I managed 8 reps in 75 seconds.

Event 3 – Sandbag medley over 20m 35kg,40kg,45kg,50g,60kg 75secs max time.  I was looking forward to this once I had heard the sandbags were solid (SO much easier to carry) and knew I probably wouldn’t have much difficulty picking them up (I have long arms!) but unfortunately my speed let me down a little as I didn’t manage to get the 60kg over the bar in time.

Sandbag Medley.

Event 4 – Rope pull and then drag 100kg over 20m. This was head to head, a format which works for me. Whilst I lost the head to head I knew my time would be better than if I had done it alone or against someone slower than me.  I need to practice my technique for this event.

I then found out at this stage I was placed 2nd. Which meant I went head to head with the girl in first for the farmers walk. Only I didn’t even manage to pick it up.

Event 5 – Farmers Walk. Jesus I think I had psyched myself out of this before it had even begun. I have picked up and walked with 65kg before (not far) but my legs were fried by this time and the handles were lower than I usually practice with. I just couldn’t get the weight up. I was so FUCKED OFF with myself. I was the only one not to do this event at all. I had to go outside for a few minutes and compose* myself  (*swear loudly and kick things)

Farmers walk being set up. Low handles!

Farmers walk being set up. Low handles!

Event 6 – Wobble hold. By this time it was LATE, the organisers decided the only people to do this event would be those whose placement would change if they won/lost it (does that make sense?) anyway after the Farmer Walk disaster I was placed joint 3 so would have to do the wobble hold to determine who got the medal. I was quite lucky it was the wobble hold that was the decider as the lady I was up against could have kicked my butt at any lower body event.

Wobble hold. 48kg each side.

Anyway I used all the pent up frustration over the farmers walk and took some words of friendly advice and went to my happy place (it involves pimms, sunshine and no children). I won. I got a medal.

(L-R) Claire (2nd) , Me (3rd), Anna (1st) I bascially grinned like this for the rest of the evening.

(L-R) Claire (2nd) , Me (3rd), Anna (1st) I bascially grinned like this for the rest of the evening.

I learnt a lot from this competition, but that’s for another post.

What about the title of this blog post? During the competition I got talking to a man who remarked that I didn’t look like I fit in at the competition – that I just look like an average mum. He didn’t mean this in a horrible way, I think it was almost a compliment.  I am an average mum, I have a 2 & 5 year old and my main job is looking after them, but inbetween? I lift heavy 😉

Take up space.

Some of you may know, some of you may not, that it was announced earlier in the year in the UK that Winston Churchill will replace social reformer Elizabeth Fry as the face of £5 notes. Meaning no woman of significance would be on English bank notes. If you automatically think well the Queen is a woman please stop reading my blog. A petition was raised and in the last week a decision was announced by the Bank of England that Jane Austen would be on the next £10 note and there would be a review of the selection process for future banknote characters.  Now some say that feminists shouldn’t be bothered about who is on the bank notes, it’s a small insignificant piece of the puzzle and there are bigger battles to fight. Now whilst I agree there are bigger battles I do think it’s important. I think it’s important that my daughter grows up knowing that achievements by women are as celebrated as achievements by men. I also think that the campaigner who got the result would not have spent the time she did on the banknotes achieving world peace. The victory maybe small but it IS a piece of the puzzle.

Ok so why am I blathering on about this on what is primarily suppose to be a blog about strength. Well in the days since the announcement of Jane Austen on the bank notes the organizer of the petition, Caroline Criado-Perez, has been subjected to bullying and verbal abuse (including threats of rape) on twitter. It’s been going on for about 3 days now. And instead of shying back, instead of sitting down, instead of shutting up which is what the bullys want her to do she is shouting back. She is involving police, she is saying to Twitter what are you going to do about people who threaten rape on your software. For this she is getting more abuse. She is getting abuse for being a woman taking up space (one of the tweets actually said ““Wouldn’t mind tying this bitch to my stove. Hey sweetheart, give me a shout when you’re ready to be put in your place”)

It’s important that women continue to say it’s ok to take up space mentally, physically and vocally. It’s ok to have a voice, it’s ok to have an opinion that not everyone agrees with.  So like Wendy Davis, Caroline Criado-Perez is a Strongwoman.

Back to the physical.  Yesterday I went down to train at Strength Tec, which is owned by Rob Frampton who is repeat competitor at the World’s Strongest Man. I went down to train with a lady who has now competed (and placed) in several strongwoman competitions, Meg. We did yoke to start, in which several of us got PBs at 180kg. This is where the power of encouragement comes in. I am betting none of us would even considered going up that high if we were training alone, but as a group? No problem and everyone celebrated each others success.

This was followed by car frame deadlifts, we didn’t have a car but the axle and wheels placed on it bought the total to about 160kg. This was a great practice for me because the technique is slightly different to both conventional and trap bar deadlifts, the feet are placed more forward of centre and you are slightly leaning back at the top of the movement. I’m not 100% sure that is what this video actually shows and I am definitely wearing the wrong shoes.

We moved onto log press, which was quite heartening as after weeks of struggling with 40kg it seemed a little easier.

The finisher is what Meg likes to call Death by Prowler. Apparently my pushing is as bad as my driving and I managed to come off the astro turf track causing even more effort to be needed. Basically it’s 4 lengths of 15/20m astroturf pushing the prowler, no idea how much the prowler weighs but there was an added 55kg on top. We did this for 3 sets each. It hurt and I have a raised eyebrow for anyone in the future who asks what I do for cardio….

It was lovely to meet other women who also like training with strongwoman equipment and I look forward to seeing them at the competition in TWO WEEKS TIME!!!

AMRAP

You know what I fear? The dreaded “AMRAP in 60 seconds” phrase. It strikes terror into my heart and muscles for the following reasons.

  1. I am lazy
  2. I am competitive with myself
  3. 60 seconds is a fucking long time (when my coach first did AMRAP on trap bar deadlifts I thought he was lying about the length of time to get me to do more)

I would make a rubbish crossfitter.

This weeks sessions has 2 AMRAP. Double the fun!! However as much as I protest I think AMRAP works for me as I know the first set will never be my best effort. Which is a little problematic for competitions but not for training sessions.

Yesterdays session

  • Trap Bar Deadlifts 3*max reps in 60 secs. 18@80, 19@90, 21@90
  • Yoke 6*25m timed @110kg
  • Good mornings with chains 4*8
  • Hip thrusts with chain 4*20

Todays session

  • tyre flip – yeah lets not go there.
  • Log press AMRAP 30kg for 60s 10,12,10
  • Pick up Sandbags 10kg, 20kg, 35kg, plus keg at roughly 40kg run 20m place on platform run back for next object.  6 sets

So as we were going to board the train on Saturday to a wedding I, as usual, had no book to read and went looking for a magazine. My husband unhelpful pointed out I hated the magazines. I didn’t buy one. However whilst wandering around the internet I did come across this article

Here’s what the perfect women’s magazine would look like 

I, of course, would add a fitness section but not consisting of

  • 6 exercises to get a flat stomach
  • Your running weight loss plan
  • hello bikini body!
  • Drop 4kg on holiday

But

  • How to flip a tyre (yeah it’s becoming a thing)
  • The actual meaning of the word tone in relation to muscle
  • How to out lift your partner
  • Why women belong in the weights section
  • 6 exercises to make you feel like a badass in the gym whatever the size or shape of your stomach.

What would you like to see in your ideal women’s magazine? (or even a stop to gender specific magazines?!?!)

Last week and the power of thoughts.

So back to last week, the actual training. The week got better, hurrah. I didn’t train Wednesday as I woke up with lower back ache (maybe from incorrect form with the tyre) and I am paranoid about back pain! It had eased by Thursday evening so  I went and did what I thought at the time was a light session using a belt as a cue to brace correctly.

  • Deadlifts 3x5x70kg 2x5x80kg
  • Zercher Squats 5x10x30kg
  • Farmers walk 8x60mx40kg (each hand)

I say suppose to be light as I woke up with DOMS which I am hoping is coming from finally getting my Zercher Squat technique correct!

Friday. So you know when you are doing an exercise, and feeling pretty pleased with the weight you are using, feeling pretty good, yeah I’m pushing myself etc and then the coach comes and points out you should be using double the weight? Yeah, that. I was doing 5×12 KB shoulder press using 10kg, trying to be strict with no leg involvement and my coach said I should be using 20kg.  However this isn’t a negative criticism, he knows what my goals are and he knows that I sometimes go light on myself. He is just pointing out what I can achieve (no I can’t do even 1 20kg kb should press strict at the moment, but with work one day I will)

Friday workout

  • Kettlebell shoulder press 5x12x10kg
  • Assisted chin ups 11,6,5,6,5 (green band)
  • Floor press 5*8*35
  • Inverted rows 5×12

Earlier in the week (when I wasn’t suffeing from whole body DOMS) I thought how nice it would be to train with my husband. I am really missing training in a group. Luckily my gym has a Saturday morning group conditioning session and we had no kids Saturday so…

” combination of overhead and horizontal pressing movements as well as multiple row andheave variations. Likelihood is that will include rope climbs, rope sled heaves, inverted rows, and chins, plus log press, keg press + press up variations”

It was great fun to train with my husband, even if I do wish he concentrated a little more on what he was doing and a little less on what I was doing! And I got my first rope climb (see previous posts, and no there were no biscuits sellotaped to the ceiling)

So, last week. Mental attitude. NOT GOOD. I feel like I am getting weaker. I am letting my mind control what my body can achieve. I could blame the fact woman have been told for ever that they are the weaker sex, the fairer sex (what does that even mean?), that lifting weights isn’t for females as we don’t want to get bulky, so my natural disposition when I approach a weight is that I can’t do this and be slightly apologetic about the fact. But I don’t think this is the case here. I follow women on facebook who can do 250kg yoke & 65kg log press, I know what women can achieve if they put there mind to it and train.  I do think I am attaching too much importance to this competition and part of me wishes I would have waited rather than just sign right up to the first that came along but patience isn’t a personality trait I own.

This evening I read this article Strong Mind:Thinking Right  and Strong Mind:Haves and Bes both of which I need to put into practice asap.

Do you train with your partner/husband? Do you have any good visualisation or mind trick tips?

Maybe I was a husky in a previous life?

I don’t like training in the afternoon it breaks the day up to much, personal preference would be first thing in the morning but life often gets in the way. Todays session was at 3pm and was coached because I had never done banded deadlifts or sled drags, both of which were programmed.

Banded deadlifts, in this instance, are for speed work. Something I need as I am a lot of things but speedy isn’t one of them. If you want to know more about them then read this. 8×3@60kg with 2 red bands each side. The nice part is when you take the bands off and suddenly you could be holding a feather bar at the lock out point.

Did lots of cleans using a fat bar, no problem with 30kg, got most with 40kg and then had a complete mental block with 45kg. The weight felt light in my hands but my mind was having none of it. I think I got 2, out of about 20. Mental.

To finish off, sled drags.

Like this. But I have more hair.

I don’t run. I definitely don’t sprint. So of course to finish off I did sprinting 50m whilst pulling a sled. With weight on (60kg and then 70kg). Repeat 6 times. I expected to hate these and I loved them. They are no fun at all (apart from the fact they are outside, which at the moment is heaven) but I genuinely enjoyed doing them, probably because of the short duration!

This weekend is going to take more mental fortitude than any strongwoman training, on Saturday I am hosting a 5th birthday party for 28 children.

When do you prefer to train?

Tomorrow is here.

So I made it back into the gym today, it wasn’t my gym but DrM belongs to a gym that you can do a pay by session for so I trotted off there. It doesn’t have the strongman equipment but it does have a squat rack, power rack, bench etc. It all felt a bit meh which I think was because I was trying to catch up on podcasts whilst training. Yes, yes I know woman are suppose to be able to multi-task but not when it comes to training! Soon as I switched to music (first track Linkin Park – Crawling. Oh yeah) everything seemed to slot back into place. You know that feeling when the beat kicks in and the weight is coming up and the smile is starting to play on your lips cos you are going to win against the weight today? It’s the cheapest (and legal) high I know.

Note to self is I have to start doing conditioning at the end of every session especially if the session doesn’t contain any specific strongman event training.

After yesterdays blog post about putting the gym off until tomorrow I did want to say something about not putting things off.  A twitter friend who powerlifts wrote a great piece today

On the “right” to lift

Another twitter friend has expressed interest in going to one of the S&C classes I attend,  I say come along it will be fun but she claims she wants to build her strength before coming to the class as she doesn’t want to be the weakest.

If a class is good, if a coach is good, they will make all abilities welcome, they will make all activities accessible.  You should never put off wanting to lift (whether that be powerlifting, strongwoman or just plain BodyPump) for fear of not being fit enough or not being strong enough.

In fact a good reason to train in a group or with another person is you will probably lift heavier quicker. Everytime a little voice in your head goes “that’s waayyyyy to heavy for you to lift” another voice in the group will say that you will smash that weight with ease, and then they will cheer when you do it.  It’s like the placebo effect with weights.

If the gym you go to doesn’t have the lifting you want to do then change gyms, there are 100s of gyms out there that might not have free fluffy towels or their name on water bottles but they will have power racks,  olympic bars and knowledgeable trainers. 

Don’t spend time putting off lifting for fear of you are not going to be good enough, because you are good enough but do you know how you actually get stronger? By turning up. Words don’t make you physically strong, actions combined with heavy weights do. Please don’t wait for tomorrow when you could be experiencing the joy of lifting heavy today.

Some things you just shouldn’t admit in public. Never mind writing it down.

When I do the log press in the gym I get out two tyres to rest it on inbetween sets/reps whatever I am doing.

When I eventually clear up and put the tyres back where they belong this is what I imagine I look like…

Hands up who remembers this advert?

I have no idea why I imagine I am a man, topless, covered in grease I think it’s because I want his arms. Anyway it makes me giggle to myself.

Also my Princess of Power t-shirt came today.

Have told my husband I am going to cut off the sleeves so you can see my arms. He thinks I'm joking.

Have told my husband I am going to cut off the sleeves so you can see my arms. He thinks I’m joking.

Anyway back to the strongman training stuff. I was really pleased with my session on Monday. After a kick ass session on Saturday I knew I was just not pushing myself hard enough when I trained solo. I am lazy by nature. So on Monday I did the following session
Over head press
3x3x20kg
1x1x25kg
5x5x27.5kg
Assisted (green band) chinup
8,8,6,6,6
Assisted (red band) press ups
5×8
AMRAP 35kg log press 1min
3,4,4,3,3
Also some squat rehab thingies (no idea what you would call them, they are bodyweight squats with a band around the knees to make sure you push your knees out enough) with black band 5×10
Was quite pleased with the session. Of course I can always do better….

My gym is starting a new Strongman Training Class (mixture of event training and conditioning work) on Saturday at 11.30. Unfortunately I can’t make any of the June classes but will be on it for July. The gym I go to is SO friendly and welcoming (as long as you don’t want cardio machines) if it’s something you have been thinking about doing I say GO FOR IT!!!

The Envelope….

So this morning I posted an envelope with an application and cheque in for Somersets Strongest Woman being held on August 10th.

This is the information from the website about the events I will be competing in.

“SOMERSETS STRONGEST WOMAN:-

we are making the womens comp 2 tier, meaning it will accomodate female lifters of all standards, where possible there will be a heavier and lighter alternative to each event, the heavier option will score more points, but the full comp will be acsesable to more women and newcomers to the sport…

A clear list of all scoring and rules will be published shortly..

1). log press- reps in 60 secs (clean every rep). 65kg 4pts or 40kg 1pt..

2). car deadlift.. weight to be confirmed but around 100kg heavier weight will be available for extra points.

3). super yolk 150kg 20mtr run or the same run with 190kg for extra points.. 190kg 20 mtr run trumps any 150 run.

4).tyre flip. reps in 60 seconds.. 200kg 1 pt 360kg 4pts.

5). 5x Atlas stones 40kg- 100kg. will offer heavier bonus stone for extra points (tba)

We have done the womens comp this way, to atarct newcomers to strongwoman, we believe a lot of women with no previous experience could start training now and be able to manage most of the events by the time the comp comes around…
good luck to you all .. it will be an awsome show..”

I think my exact thought process as the envelope left my hand and fell into the letterbox is “WTF am I doing?”.

Sod waiting until October…

So because I have NO patience at all and am still stoked from watching the StrongWomen competition on Saturday the thought of waiting until October to compete is not an option. So I have found a competition in Somerset in August.

The events make me want to do this

but hey, the whole point is CHALLENGING myself, moving out of my comfort zone. It’s not about competing with other girls it’s about competing with me.

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