Powerlifting meet follow-up

I ended up going to two meets this summer with Bull Stewart and his team. The first one, in June, I did all three of the lifts. My second squat was disallowed for lack of depth. I was so surprised! “Moi?” I’ve busted so many people for not squatting deep enough, so it was great for me to get a dose of my own coaching medicine. My third squat was deep enough and was at 215 lbs. Not a record for me, but a good conservative and confident weight for my first meet following a disallowed lift.

Bench presses and deadlifts went smoothly. I ended with a bench press of 110 lbs (conservative) and a deadlift of 248 lbs. I thought 248 would be on the edge, but with the excitement of the meet, I knew I could have lifted substantially more.

I love the supportive and friendly culture I’ve seen both at Bull’s gym and in powerlifting, at this meet. Really great. I decided later in the summer to deadlift only at the Alki Classic, a meet held on Alki Beach each August. With a busy summer, I was able to focus on training my deadlift only, and this was Bull’s idea because I was going to skip it altogether. I made my own plan to increase my deadlift in the five weeks I had to prepare, because I really wanted to set a personal record on Alki Beach. How fun would that be! My deadlift training plan that I followed is at the end of this post. And I did indeed set a PR of 264 lbs on my final attempt.

I used flat sneakers at the meet, after training in weightlifting shoes, to give myself more of a mechanical advantage. The advantage of deadlifting in flat shoes was something I knew about, but almost for arbitrary reasons I had made up my mind that I’d do all my lifts in WL shoes all the time. A trainer at CrossFit RE, Greg Gerard, suggested I try flat shoes for the meet, and I could not disagree. It worked. As soon as I knew I had lifted the weight about two inches off the floor, I KNEW I had it. If I get stuck, I get stuck right above the floor. I let out a scream to motivate myself to stand it up. I was really happy with this lift! I love the deadlift. Link is to my first deadlift session in September 2004.

It had been a long, hot day, so I got a photo with two powerlifting teammates and then Tom and I took off. I am disappointed I didn’t stay for the team photo because the whole team is so cool!

Here’s the way I trained during the final four or five weeks before the Alki meet in August 2017:

Week 1 – 7/15
Find 3rm: 3rm was 228 and I stopped
Week 2 – 7/21
7/21 I did deficit deadlifts at Bull’s place. Standing on about 1.5 inch planks,
8 singles at 225 then a set of three when someone (Rose Pristell) lent me a belt.
Week 3 – 7/28 – I did 230 x 1 off the blocks, then 230 x 5 off the floor.
Calc 1 rep max = 259 or 268 depending which calculation you use at timinvermont.com
Week 4 – August 3
Plan: Do a set of 3 at 233; actually ended up doing five at 233.
Week 5 -August 10
goal is 239×3 (This is the 3rm for 264×1)
Stiff leg dl from rack up to 155 for sets of 8
Regular DL 175 to 233 for 1 each.
Then take 264 out of rack and lower under control to floor.
Meet on Aug. 19; goal I trained for is 120 kg or 264 lbs
1st attempt 112.5 kg, same as last meet – succeeded
2nd attempt 117.5 kg – succeeded
3rd attempt was 120 kg and succeeded! (264 lbs)

Bench press PR “with the pause”

Today I benched 125 with Bull spotting and “Mailman” (actually Austin — a guy on the team) calling out the meet commands — Start, Press, Rack. I’m no longer freaked out by the requirement to hold the barbell at the bottom and wait for the Press command. Bull said, “You’re ready!” To Austin he said, “She’s tough!” It is a nice compliment that sinks in, but on the other hand, the fact is I’m not particularly tough. It’s more that lifting is one thing I’m well-trained at, and I’m lucky to be able to do that.

Bull was telling stories about other competitions, high-school coaches who encourage their athletes to use gear like bench shirts when it’s counterproductive, athletes who have had to be removed from teams because of the use of anabolics (which can disqualify a whole team, he said), and more. I’m thankful to have learned to lift from good teachers and to be confident and skilled to lift correctly and strongly without accessories. Nothing wrong with some of the gear if you need it, but it’s good to feel that so far all I’ve needed is a belt, and that rarely. I’ll use it for the squat and deadlift at the meet.

This meet is going to be really fun.

Going to compete

I’ve been working out at Columbia City Fitness – Jackson Street location with Bull Stewart and co. Their enthusiasm for strength training, and for the strength I’ve developed after all the lifting I’ve done, inspired me to join their powerlifting team. Most recent heavy lifts:

squat 220 x 3 x 3 today with a belt;
deadlift 235 x 3 and 245 x 1 on May 12;
bench press to 120 x 1 with a pause (the pause is so hard!).

What I know so far about competing on June 3:
I’ll wear a belt for the squat and deadlift.
Opening squat will be 230 (105 kg). I’ll warm up to 205 most likely (93 kg).
Opening bench will be 95 (43 kg) unless I can get a really confident 100 (45 kg) with a pause “right when I roll out the bed,” as Bull puts it.
Opening deadlift will be 245 (111 kg).

Bull says I’m going to have fun at the meet because I’m competitive. Dave and Nancy used to tell me I was competitive. I must not have good self-awareness around that, because I’ve always described myself as not competitive (and Dave and Nancy would laugh at this). Why? For example at CrossFit, I work out without looking to see what my peers had done — that is, I forget to try to beat them. It didn’t even occur to me until I was done, almost every time. If I work out *with* someone, I look at them as inspiration to keep moving, not as someone to try and beat. (Am I being honest?) For another example, I decide what to do in a lifting workout by picking a challenge that I believe I can do, not by thinking about what others my size did.

In what way *am* I competitive? Maybe just the fact that once I decided to go to the meet, my approach was that I want to do well and challenge myself, both, not just go and lift easy to get the experience and have fun. I take it seriously. I don’t know, is that competitive?

Recent stuff

I haven’t blogged in a while, but I’ve been working out and I re-took the CrossFit Level 1 Trainer certificate course a couple of weeks ago. Erin N went with me and it was really fun! I still love CrossFit after 11 years and even after learning that not all of its precepts are strictly correct. It is fun, and it’s so interesting to see it as a system that has developed out of one person’s experimentation on a few clients.

This week I did some hard workouts. On Tuesday I deadlifted to a 3-rep max of 225. Technically my 3-rep max is higher, because I actually did 3 sets of 3. Before that I also had done several 30-second row sprints to see the fastest pace I could attain and how long I could keep it (1:41 and 6 seconds). After the deadlifts I did the day’s Tabata: row for calories, box jump, rings push-ups, barbell row.

Yesterday I didn’t do much, just went for a 40-minute walk to Martha Washington Park and stretched.

Today at 6:30 AM I did the day’s WOD with Carroll: run 800m, 40 6-inch target burpees, 20 box jump-overs, 3 rounds for time… in the time available (32:10), I got through two rounds, the run, and half the burpees. The time included a bathroom break. I used a 12-inch box. I had already planned to test this Saturday’s workout, and had not planned to do the WOD, so I went “easy” (it wasn’t easy).

The WOD coming up for Saturday is a barbell complex that I was afraid would be too hard, but scaled to a lighter weight it was no harder than other barbell WODs. So today I did two WODs. Tomorrow I get to sleep in.

Catching up again

Thurs. Jan. 8
WOD:
5 minutes AMRAP:
5 burpee
7 toes to bar (I did knee raises in order to practice stringing them together)
9 thrusters (Rx was 65 lbs, I used 55)
Rest 2 minutes, repeat for 3 rounds
I got 9 rounds 4 reps
2-1/2 hours later: back squat up to 200 lbs x 5, 5, 3.
Weds. Jan. 7
Bench press to 95 for 4 x 5
Tues. Jan. 6
Front squat to 150 for one set of 5. REALLY heavy. Immediately after I racked it, I wondered if I had hurt my back, right in the middle on each side — but that soon felt normal again and i was (am) just really fatigued from it. I was going to bench press today, but decided I’d done enough, especially since it was Tuesday, my longest work day, and I would have had to bench after 1:00 (quitting time).
Went to karate that night.
Sunday and Monday — nothing much.
Saturday Jan. 3 — karate.
What I remember from before that…
Tuesday, Dec. 30 — Back squat, testing 3-rep max, 225 x 3 for one set. This works out to a theoretical 1-rep max of 249 — so 225 for 3 is a PR. My actual 1-rep max this fall was 240.
Friday Dec. 26: “Fran” Rx in 6:28, far off my record, but nice people kindly complimented me on that being a fast time.
Dec. 20 — Twelve Days of CrossFit — my time was 35:43. We changed it this year so it wasn’t exactly the same as the last three or four we’ve done.
My last blog post here was on Dec. 14 and I know I worked out between then and the 20th… but I didn’t write them down.

Deadlift 1-rep max 232

Friday Dec. 12: 1-rep max deadlift. I did this along with my Fitness Within Reach class. I calculated my 1RM should be 232, and it was. I failed at 240 though I had to try it because I had time.

The WOD was, for time:

  • 800m run
  • 50 DB Snatches
  • 400m run
  • 35 DB Snatches
  • 250m run
  • 20 DB Snatches

This took me over 17 minutes  and made me feel like I was going to lose bladder control, throw up, and have a heart attack. Guess I need to get back in shape! The time includes a bathroom break — I could not face the second run without it. This may be the first time I’ve ever taken a bathroom break during a workout. Also: I ran way too far on the first run. I thought I knew the turn-around point, but someone else had figured it out and told it to me, and I obviously had it wrong. Two very good-natured women ran it with me and didn’t complain too much! Whoops!

Saturday Dec. 13: 1-rep max front squat. I hit 170 and felt good about it. That’s 15 pounds off my all time record. Then we had a team workout. I was part of a trio. Together we did 150 sit-ups, doubleunders, lunge steps, push-ups, and squats. I can’t remember our time, but we had fun. Susie and I were “one person” and the other was Hannah the college student.

Our gym Christmas party was last night. As always, it was very fun and relaxing to hang out with everyone in Teresa’s beautiful house.

Today I stayed home and practiced the Pinan Nidan and the Matsukaze katas.

Disciplined, not driven

My back felt fine today, but my left wrist hurt with pushing or with hanging from the bar. So I deadlifted, up to a set of 5 at 190 and another set of 5 at 175. These felt normal/good. Then my workout of the day was: 15 kettlebell swings 24 kg, 15 butterfly sit-ups, 6 fist (knuckle) push-ups (because these didn’t hurt the wrist), 4 rounds. This took me 6:48 and felt good.

I didn’t feel like working out today. I often can too easily spend too much time in the gym working at the computer or cleaning. Daily I tell myself that if I don’t work out, I’ll be sorry when it’s time to go home and I did not work out when I was between things and had the time. I tell myself that either I’m a lifter and a CrossFitter, or I’m not. You are what you do. “How long ago was your last workout?” is a fair question for a trainer. My expectation is to be able to say that either my last WOD or my last lifting session was within the past two days, unless I had a really compelling reason not to have worked out. Also, saying I worked out in the past two days doesn’t include karate or going for a run — it has to be lifting or CrossFit or both. Running is just a little supplement, and karate is in another category altogether.

I don’t always force myself to do whatever’s on the whiteboard that day or to lift with a certain volume or intensity. I always write out a plan for my workout, on a whiteboard, but on a day like today, with recent back weakness and with current wrist pain in at least two positions, I’ll plan something that doesn’t make me nervous about conditions like those. I can always come up with something challenging enough, and once I get started, I go hard and I never quit unless something hurts in a significant way. For example, I’ll stop doing pull-ups if I realize my palm is going to tear, or I’ll stop doing handstand push-ups if my wrist suddenly hurts.

Sometimes I feel that I’m not fit enough because I’m not as fit as I was five years ago. But it’s not just a hobby any more. That really changes things, even though it’s not an issue of having enough time. I do have time, so I insist on maintaining most of my chosen benchmarks most of the time, but I refuse to try to maintain a standard of some imaginary, impossible perfection.

I was at my fittest in late 2009. Six months after “going paleo,” my weight was down to 123 and I was muscular, skilled, and fast. I clean and jerked more than my body weight and I could do bar muscle-ups. I felt that I looked my best. Today my weight moves between 132 to 135 although I’d like it at 128 or 129 (but really, WHO CARES) and I can’t clean more than 120 or do a bar muscle-up (though I can get those things back if I choose to focus on them). I’m not very self-critical about those things. I have plenty of abilities, I’m a good teacher who helps others, and I maintain my own personal benchmarks so that I’m a good example.

What are my benchmarks? Deadlift and squat over 200 pounds (and deadlift heavier than squat); press 90+; plenty of pull-ups such as 8 dead-hang and able to do at least one weighted pull-up with 35 pounds; cartwheel and handstand, not perfect but confident and competent; brachiate/monkeybar ladder/swing one-handed from ring to ring; pistol on each leg with some sort of weight, though I do have to wear weightlifting shoes or otherwise slightly elevate my heel. I may think of other benchmarks after I’m done here. In general these are the benchmarks I feel are “strong enough.”

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Bench press PR

On Tuesday I deadlifted up to a set of 5 at 205, then bench pressed up to 5 at 120. Mike was there and said I ought to try for 132, which is my body weight, and I’d said I wanted to bench that. So I did one at 125 and then finally one at 132. Awesome.

Later I ran my “daily” one mile, not very fast, 8:40 I think. It is not daily any more now that it’s been raining about every other day. I’m not going to get soaked.

Today I front squatted up to 3 x 5 at 145 and then did several sets of strict and weighted pull-ups, up to two at 20 kg. I did five reps at 8, 12, and 16 kg first. This was all pretty tiring.

Coach Rippetoe always says if you’re not increasing the weight on your bar, you’re not getting stronger and you’re wasting time. I’d like to see him address the desire to maintain strength (that isn’t quite maximal but is pretty darn strong) instead of taking the increased risk of always trying to go heavier, as well as the simple fact that no one is going to get stronger forever. I try to always maintain a deadlift and squat of >200 lbs, a press of >90, a clean and jerk of 100+, and a 16-kg weighted pull-up. I’m not wasting time.

 

Multi-WOD

Today: shoulder press up to 4 at 81 lbs (85% of 1-rep max) then a multi-part WOD.

Max kettlebell snatches (16 kg) in 5 minutes: 107; rest 1 minute
Max burpee box jumps 20″ in two minutes: 16; rest 1 minute
AMRAP 5 minutes: 5 thruster (55 lbs), 5 toes to bar: I got 5 rounds 7 reps

Later I ran a mile in 8:00 around the neighborhood.

I’m especially happy with the 107 snatches in 5 minutes. I was required to do 100 in five minutes for the RKC. At age 50 that requirement would be for a 12-kg kettlebell, but I can still do over 100 with the 16 kg. It was easier this time than when I did 100 of them with Tom earlier this year. I was less spent afterward.

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Press PR; squat PR for reps

Today I wanted to press 100 lbs. I did a very sparing warm-up of 1 rep at several weights: 70, 85, 92, 98. I failed at 100 on three widely spaced attempts, including with a belt. I did lift 98 and that was a PR.

I stayed to work out with Kyle’s noon class. We back squatted. I used the percentage of 1 rep max / Wendler scheme. This was the heavy week where you work up to 1+ reps at 95%. My 1-rep max is 240 most recently, so I finished my squats with 3 reps at 225. They were a mess. I haven’t been that close to having to bail out in a long time. But I got them all done, and the calculated 1RM for 3 x 225 is 248. So I can call that a PR and try 248 sometime soon if I have the nerve.

Then we had a kettlebell workout with cleans and push-presses, 10 of each, 9 of each, down to 1. I used a 16 kg bell and it took me about four and a half minutes.

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On Monday this week we had front squats and a workout of strict pull-ups, strict ring dips, and deadlifts. I front squatted 145 for 2 x 5. The WOD was:
5 strict pull-ups
5 strict ring dips
10 deadlifts at 155 (I used 135)
5 rounds for time. This took me 11:36 and tired me out enough that I didn’t feel bad about using 135 for the deadlift.

Last Friday I deadlifted up to 220 x 5 and 220 x 3. I would like to get my deadlift up to 270 for 1 rep.

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