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?

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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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9 Fit Tips I Wish 16 Year Old Haley Knew


1. VISUALIZE

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As humans we have an extraordinary ability to “see” something that isn’t there.  When a vision is so strong coupled with the desire to achieve that picture, it will happen. I used to look in the mirror and only see what I didn’t like, I’d put myself down and then walk away feeling like a pile of shit – useless right? Now I do my best to love what I see, and then take it a step further and see what isn’t there – yet. My butts bigger, delts rounder, and quads are popping. I truly believe that this technique will have you seeing the real thing sooner than without it.

2. THE ALL OR NON RESPONSE SHOULD BE FOR MUSCLE RECRUITMENT ONLY

When a motor neuron sends a signal to a motor unit, it will contract all the muscle fibres it innervates; or none at all. Adversely, you planned an intense hour long workout but life just got in the way. Now you have 20 minutes – skip it? NO! Pick the biggest lift for that day and go hammer it as many times as you can in the time you have. The short workouts add up, as do ones that are missed, which do you prefer? Same should be applied to your nutrition, if you ate a piece of cake for Betty’s birthday today don’t use this as a reason to keep eating junk.


3. EAT FOR YOUR GOALS/DAILY NEEDS

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This one I need to do in point form because here are the facts:

  • If you want to get big, you have to eat big.
  • IIFYM is a load of shit, eat good food.
  • If you want to lean out, you have to burn more than you consume.
  • Not eating at all, or not eating all day, or going too long between meals will not help you AT ALL when it comes to achieving weight loss.
  • Lean proteins are your muscles best friend.
  • Rice, oats, veggies, fruits, quinoa, couscous are the best carb options
  • Healthy fats such as those found in nuts, seeds, coconut oils, avocado, and fish oils are absolutely vital.
  • Pick up a nutrition book, this isn’t your car we are talking about – you can always get a new car.

4. STOP WORKING OUT – START TRAINING

I WISH someone had offered me this tip when I first started to exercise. Like most, vanity and the fact I was uncomfortable in my own skin propelled me to start moving more. However when I stopped working out and started TRAINING is when everything really came together. Find specific exercises / lifts, a sport, something physical to get really good at; then plan your workouts around those moves, and others that help improve it (i.e. Deadlift: deficit sumo deadlift, deadlift from pins, barbell bent rows with torso angled at 90 degrees…).

5. TRAINING WITH YOUR BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND SUCKS

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I didn’t have time to make, never mind drink my green tea. Yet I had to wait 20 minutes for him to go through his 50 mobility corrective bullshit exercises. By then my warm up was done and that mental peak had come and gone. I had weight loaded on me before I was ready and he was totally annoyed with the fact my bar height/weights were so different from his. He’d then go on to be a loud jackass and treat me like one of his juiced up buddies. Worst of all, God forbid we’d stick around to do anything extra because it wasn’t in “the plan.” Needless to say we don’t speak anymore, and the fact we hated each other in the weight room definitely contributed to that. Your gym partner should compliment your style of training, not completely piss you off and make you feel small. #itsmyblogicansaywhatiwant #yeaheisadouchebag  #totallybiased

6. IF IT’S FOR ANYONE BUT YOU, IT WILL TURN INTO “WORK”

If entering a fitness competition motivates you to train harder – great! If your boyfriend likes big glutes – awesome! If you have to be strong for your job – fantastic! However, the more you train for reasons other than those that hold true to yourself, it’s only a matter of time before that spark fizzles.

7. YOU’RE NO BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE

Letting the size of your ego inflate along with your biceps is so very, very unattractive. It’s great if your new physique makes you feel like Hercules, but there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. Please don’t turn into to one of those people that scare newbies away. It’s about overall health for most people; they don’t give a shit how much you can bench.

8. HAVE A BEER AND A SLICE OF PIZZA

Don’t misconstrue this point; I would never try to sabotage your goals. I myself am a very healthy eater. I eat to Train and I am lucky because I find true enjoyment in doing so. However, there are days when I’ve eaten all my lean protein and leafy greens but still have this gut feeling I need something more. Only something greasy will satisfy this, and without going overboard, I feel like that cold beer and slice of pizza is the punch in the face my metabolism needs once in a while. However if you post your “cheat meal” on social media, I’ll then want to punch you in the face.

9. FOOD SCALE IS A GOOD IDEA SHORT TERM

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The food scale is an excellent tool to get a good grasp on portion sizes. You may be surprised that 15g of peanut butter isn’t the size of your fist (unfortunately). Through weighing my food I have learned what serving sizes look like and it was the reality check my eating habits needed. Unfortunately it got to the point where I felt like I had to weight everything, all the time. This is unrealistic unless you plan on busting out the scale at restaurants, and it’s a habit that can eventually turn unhealthy. Learn how to “eyeball” it and only use the scale if it’s really needed.