Weightlifting

September 1st, 2015 I made the move from Brampton to North Bay, Ontario. I came in light of new experiences and the opportunity to learn how to Olympic style weight lift from one of the best coaches, Larry Sheppard.

My desire to get in shape started when I was 16 years old, and now at 28; I have learned so much through education, personal successes, and failures. However, just when I thought I had a good grasp on everything; my style of training has been completely flipped in pursuit of becoming an athlete.

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For as long as I can remember I worked out to look good. Vanity and lack of self esteem pushed me towards the commercial facilities where mirrors line every wall, and platforms are non existent. I’ve worked out in gyms that don’t allow chalk, and have had employees tell me I can’t drop the weights as I was performing heavy deadlifts.

I dipped my toes in the physique competitions – but in all honestly they were super amateur. It’s something I am proud of in the sense it took hard work and courage; but at the same time I roll my eyes because it just wasn’t me.

I wish I had known someone in the powerlifting or weightlifting community 10 years ago; but would-a-should-a-could-a; this is where I am at now and thats what matters. I began learning the snatch and clean & jerk in early September 2015.

What is the Snatch?

Snatch+Phases+Trajectory-lowres

The Snatch is the first of the two Olympic lifts to be contested, followed by the clean & jerk. The aim is the lift a loaded bar from the floor to overhead, in one smooth, continuous motion.

The athlete begins by setting themselves up so that the bar is directly over their metatarsals with their feet hip width apart; toes turned out slightly. A wide “hook grip” is used on the bar (fingers on top of thumbs), and the arms straight with the shoulders directly over the bar, or slightly in front of it. The thighs should be almost parallel to the floor (depending on femur length), and the back remains straight and tight with extension in the thoracic vertebrae. The chest should be open and head titled back.

“Lift off” begins the moment the bar is separated from the floor as the athlete then moves into the “first pull.” During this phase the lifter begins to extend their knees and moves their hips upward while keeping a constant back angle relative to the floor. Centre of gravity shifts towards the heels as the lifter pulls the bar close to their body. The bar begins to accelerate at the end of this phase as they “transition” to position themselves appropriately for the second pull. During this transition is where you’ll often see the “double-knee” bend.

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$50,000 Eleiko platform from the Pan Am games

The “second pull” is an explosive movement that is executed through the extension of the hips, knees, and ankles (triple extension); followed by a strong elevation of the shoulders (shrug). This is where the bar will “brush” the hips and feet leave the ground to quickly move into the squat position. The “turnover” phase occurs as the lifter begins to pull themselves under the bar, and the “catch phase” occurs the moment the lifters feet have landed on the platform, catching the bar overhead with arms locked out. It is finished only when the lifter shows control of the bar by standing up and bringing the feet together.

What is the clean & jerk?

The clean & jerk is the second lift to be contested and is comprised of two stages which also has the athlete lift the bar from the floor to an overhead position.

They begin by setting their feet under their hips and by grabbing the bar just outside their legs using a “hook grip.” The bar is lifted to the top of the knees where the athlete then performs the “triple extension” through explosive extension of the hips, knees, and ankles; followed by a big shrug. The aim here is to get the bar as high as possible before dropping into the squat and receiving the bar in the “racked” position (bar sits in front of the neck resting on the anterior deltoids). The lifter then stands back up and readjusts their grip width in preparation for the jerk.

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The jerk begins where the clean finishes; with the bar across the shoulders and the back vertical. The lifter dips just a few inches by flexing the knees; then through explosive extension of the knees the barbell is propelled upwards off the shoulders. The athlete pushes the bar with their arms and quickly drops under by splitting their feet in a lunge type fashion (one forward and one back). The bar is received overhead with the arms straight, and once stable; the lifter recovers from the split position by bringing their feet back together.

Ofcouse these explanations may be missing some aspects, but you get a good idea of what I have been up to over the past 8 months. I have competed in 3 competitions thus far and took 3rd place in my weight class in my last competiton on April 9, 2015. I still have a long ways to go before I am even close to competing on a more serious level (these girls are strong!!!), but I am just happy to have found something new and exciting. It feels great to be more concerned over how I perform rather than how I look.

Most importantly, I have been working hard to learn how to coach these lifts. I have engulfed myself in everything weightlifting and succeeded passing my level one weightlifting certification with the NCCP. I will have a second diploma in strength and sports condidtioning in a couple weeks time and I hope to find work in the health promotion and coaching fields.

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Jacked Up Calves

Calf Muscles

Lately I have been totally neglecting an important muscle group that I used to hit all the time – calves.

By the time I am done my leg workout, the last thing I feel like doing is working on my calves. There’s just something about working the not-so-big muscles at the end of a heavy workout that bores the crap out of me, and I often head into it half assed, or not at all (shaking my head in shame right now). With that said, I have to change my approach and once again get excited about making those calves grow.

One of the rules of training is to exercise any lagging body parts first in your workout. Instead of waiting until I am exhausted after my workout; I am going to start training my calves first thing while I’m fresh. I can foresee this being hard for me because I’m that girl who will race you to the squat if it’s free, so putting that second will be challenging.

Also, I know that calves respond nicely to high volume. I normally won’t do anything less than 20 reps at a time when training calves and perform anywhere between 4-6 sets. That’s not to say I am going super light with the weight, I still want to make it as heavy as possibly while still being able to effectively go through the full range of motion and emphasize a squeeze at the top of each rep; if I can’t do this, I have gone too heavy (I’m talking to those people who load up 5 plates a side on the standing calf press, like wtf?).

The Gastrocnemius and the Soleus are the two major muscles of the posterior leg. Together they make up that nice bulge and run the entire length of the lower leg, connecting behind the knee and at the heel. The Gastrocnemius crosses both the knee and ankle joint, while the soleus just crosses the ankle joint. This tells me that I need to be training my calves from both a standing and seated position; hence the standing and seated calf press machines.

On another note, I’m big on angles. I know that slightly angling my toes inwards will emphasize outer portion of my calves, and turning them slightly outwards will emphasize the inner portion. I used to make the mistake of performing calf raises on extreme angles, but I have come to learn that this will prevent me from achieving maximal calf activation and likely puts excess strain on my ligaments. With that said, do not over angle your feet, or don’t bother using that technique at all; everything will be hit while keeping the toes straight forward anyways.

In my defense, I may not currently stick around to work my calves at the gym, but I do focus on them often while walking and standing. You really don’t need external weight to make those puppies grow; body weight will work wonders too.

For whatever reason, I have always been one to walk on my tip-toes, specifically while making dinner or concentrating on something while standing. I also love playing with my gate while walking and will push forcefully off the balls on my feet (especially while walking uphill) to really get my calves involved. These techniques have resulted in strong calves without the heavy weight. It also allows me to train them more frequently, which is also a great way to make them grow since your calves are great at handling high volume and frequency.

Try this Calf workout with me and let’s see if we can make some gains:

  1. Bodyweight standing calf raise 1 x 20
  2. Standing Calf Raise Machine 5 x 20-30
  3. Seated Calf 5 x 20-30
  4. Single Leg Body Weight Calf Raise (do not bend knee and use one finger to balance yourself on an external object) 2 x 20-30 each leg

Note: Do not bounce or jerk the weight at the bottom of the movement. Each rep should be done with control; slow descend (negative), full stretch, and full contraction (squeeze) at the top.

Reasons You’re Not Gaining Muscle

1. You don’t eat enough

If you aren’t getting a surplus of calories, you simply won’t grow. If you’re not sure how many calories/day you should be consuming, the harris-benedict formula is an equation that will help you determine just that. First we must find out your “basal metabolic rate,” which is the number of calories your body would burn if staying in bed all day:

Men BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
Women BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

After you have determined you BMR, use this table to figure out your daily recommended intake:

Little to no exercise Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.2
Light exercise (1–3 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.375
Moderate exercise (3–5 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.55
Heavy exercise (6–7 days per week) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.725
Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts) Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x 1.9

Finally, now that you have a good idea of how many calories your body needs to maintain its current weight, you need to add calories in order to have the surplus required to build lean tissue. I would start with an increase of 250 calories/day; see how your body responds after a couple of weeks and then increase/decrease from there.

2. You do too much cardio

maxit_treadmill_kl-1303If you are already not eating enough calories, expending more calories via cardio will make it next to impossible for your body to gain lean muscle. The right type of cardio has its place (sprint training, slow long distance) but your first priority should be resistance training.

3. You’re not getting enough protein &/or carbs

Protein is needed for growth and to repair broken down tissue. If you aren’t getting enough, your body will turn to breaking down muscle in order to meet its daily protein needs. 1.2 -1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight should be consumed each day. It may seem like a lot at first, but it can easily be reached through the frequent consumption of lean meats, low fat dairy, eggs; egg whites, and protein powder.

Moreover, restricting your intake of carbohydrates while trying to put on muscle will leave you flat and feeling like garbage. Carbs supply the energy needed to get through intense workouts, and your brain alone needs 130g/day to function properly. 2-3g of carbs per pound of body weight is needed each day when gaining muscle. Make at least 80% of these carbs complex, and only consume simple carbs around your workouts.

Good Carb, Bad Carb

protein4. You’re inconsistent

For anything to work, consistency is vital. Almost any weight lifting plan will work if you’re consistent with it. I used to make the mistake of doing different workouts every time I hit the gym; it wasn’t until I started sticking to a plan for 4-6 weeks at a time did I really start to see gains in both lean muscle mass and strength. Find a plan, log everything, and follow through with it.

If you’re inconsistent at hitting the gym all together, well you have your answer right there.

5. You’ve been doing to same thing for too long and/or you aren’t training hard enough

Opposite from inconsistency, you’re consistent but cannot recall that last time you did something different. Our bodies are good at adapting to repetitive training stimulus, and sooner or later you will hit a plateau if you don’t switch up the exercises and/or the rep and set schemes.

On the same note, you simply might not be training hard enough. If you’re not challenged during your workouts and don’t opt for the heavy weights, you aren’t causing damage to your muscles, if you aren’t causing damage your mueat sleep train repeatscles will have no need to repair itself and heal bigger and stronger. Stop being a sissy and lift heavy things!

(For hypertrophy, 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps is generally agreed upon)

6. You don’t sleep/recover enough

Training hard and eating well plays a huge role in gaining muscle, but just as important is sleep and recovery. Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is highest when we sleep so getting the recommended 8 hours each night is a must. Also, those who don’t sleep enough tend to have higher levels of cortisol, which is catabolic hormone (breaks down muscle tissue); clearly this is a bad thing for those wanting more muscle.

7. You aren’t supplementing properly

This should be the last thing to consider, and only if you have perfected the points above. Also, relying on supplements to increase your performance is a poor idea.protein-powder

Personally, I’m all for protein powders, multivitamins, amino acids, and some pre-workouts; they have helped boost my training and aid in my recovery.

Fitness Bingo!

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Next week is March break so I thought I’d change up my group training classes and play fitness bingo! Participants must make a line (50 points), four corners (50 points), and/or an “x” (100 points) to attain the highest score possible. I’ve designed it so no matter which they choose to complete, they’ll get a full body routine. They can break up the reps any way they like in order to complete the exercises with the best form possible. The weight chosen must challenge their strength while considering the number of reps; lowering the weight before the reps are completed is allowed only if it’s 100% necessary.

I chose exercises that can be completed with the equipment I have at my disposal in the group training studio, feel free to give it a try if you have access to such equipment. If you aren’t sure of the exercises, shoot me an e-mail, or look it up on good old google. You can always change it up and choose other exercises, or make changes the number of reps -the groups I train are pretty fit people, so I made it rather challenging.

I apologize if the “bingo” card is cut off, I added a link at the bottom that should open a “PDF” copy if you wanted to print it. If that doesn’t work, I can definitely send it to you. Thanks for stopping by, keep moving!

B I N G

O

60 INVERTED ROWS 5 MINUTES STRAIGHT JUMP ROPE 30 AROUND THE WORLD FLYES ON STABILITY BALL 70 BENT OVER BARBELL ROWS 100 WEIGHTED TRAVELING LUNGES
100 RESISITANCE BAND CROSS OVERS 100 BODY WEIGHT SQUATS 75 REVERSE FLYES 3 MINUTE PLANK 70 STANDING SHOULDER PRESS
50 TRICEPS DIPS 100 STABILITY BALL IN & OUTS 100 BURPEES 30 WEIGHTED STEP-UPS EACH LEG 50 1-ARM ROWS EA. ARM
3 MINUTE WALL SIT 50 CURLS50 KICKBACKS 60 BARBELL GOODMORNINGS 30 REPS SHOULDER DRILL 50 SKATE HOPS 
200 JUMPING JACKS 70 OVERHEAD SLAMS 60 HANG CLEAN & PRESS 50 WIDE GRIP CURLS 60 PUSH-UPS

Fitness Bingo

Kettlebell Circuit

The kettlebell is an excellent tool that can be used to improve strength, power, and aerobic fitness. Although the bulk of my personal fitness programs utilizes dumbbells and barbells, I do enjoy picking up the kettlebell every now and again. It’s beneficial since it offers variety to my workouts and activates my muscles differently than other free weights.

Here is a circuit I enjoy performing either on “off” days from my regular strength training, or I’ll complete a couple rounds at the end of my workout for some conditioning work.

Please excuse the quality of the video! Watching it made me realize that using my phone won’t do, having someone else to film it would help, I shouldn’t film it while at work (haha), and I say “okay” way too much – but hey! It’s progress, not perfection.

Kettlebell Circuit:

1. Around the world x10-15 rotations ea. direction

2. Basic swing x20-30 solid reps

3. Goblet Squat x8-12 reps

4. 1-Arm Bent Rows x8-12reps ea. side

5. Windmill x8-12reps

6. Single legged deadlift x8-12 ea. leg

Perform 3-6 rounds

If you have any questions about this workout, or the exercises it consists of, feel free to leave a comment or contact me via the “Train with me” tab above.

Happy lifting 🙂

10 Mistakes Women Make in the Gym

Ladies! Take a few minutes to read this awesome article from T Nation and ask yourself if your guilty of any of the following mistakes. I know I have been guilty of them all at some point in time and if I made my own list it would certainly include all 10 of these points.

http://www.t-nation.com/training/10-mistakes-women-make-in-the-gym

LIFT HEAVY. LIFT OFTEN, LADIES!

Ditch the baby weights
Ditch the baby weights

 

 

It’s Sticking to the Diet that Counts, Not the Weight Loss Plan Itself

diet http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2742077/Atkins-Weight-Watchers-Doesn-t-matter-It-s-sticking-diet-counts-not-weight-loss-plan-study-finds.html

I enjoyed reading this short article – mainly because it reiterates points I’ve made in previous posts. There are 2 ways one can define diet:

1. the kinds of foods that a person, animal, or community habitually eats.

2. a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.

I believe in the first definition, not the second – unless it’s for medical reasons. Making little changes towards healthier eating for the rest of your life is the only way to loose fat and keep it off forever. Tempory diets = temporary weight loss.