The next 8 weeks my training looked a little something like this:
Tuesday lunch break: train with Wes, Joe and Mike at Gold’s for a light workout focused on decreasing rest time and increasing weights if need be due to strength gains
Wednesday morning before work: get trained by Wes at Gold’s with a light workout focused on decreasing rest time between sets and increasing weight if need be due to strength gains.
Saturday morning: heavy training session with the 22nd Street Barbell Team down at the dungeon
Sunday morning: heavy training session with the 22nd Street Barbell Team down at the dungeon
A couple of Saturday mornings I couldn’t make it to the dungeon to train because of having to teach CPR at the YMCA so I did I would lift Friday early afternoon at Gold’s.
The First Saturday @ the Dungeon
I will never forget this morning. I had planned to squat heavy with Terie who I had convinced to sign up for the meet. Like I said, didn’t want to do it alone! Upon arriving at the gym I noticed 3 other female lifters just warming up to lift and then proceeded to see 2 others show up and ironically we all had to squat heavy. In my head I immediately knew Wes planned for all of us females to train at 9, but didn’t tell any of us.
Little side note hear: I was the only female who did not receive her entire 8 week training cycle on day 1. Instead I got them the day of training. I think this was part of Wes’s plan of making me let go and not being able to plan. Hence the only thing I knew about training that day was I knew I had to squat heavy, but didn’t know the numbers, reps or my other accesory lifts that day.
Apparenlty I was the first to notice and of course proceeded to go up to Wes and tell him I saw his little plan. He smirked and said you have to learn to work in together squatting. When it comes meet day it is going to be crazy, and unless you speak up you will get missed and not be warmed up for your first lift. He said this style of training is going to prepare you for meet day. Once again, hate to say it, but he was right! Hopefully he isn’t reading this :)
Being a leader!
That day he asked me to step up and be a leader for the team and he asked Lakesha too as well. He said he can’t do everything and needed people to step up and lead others on team training days on the female side in particular. At that point I tried to be there for whatever anyone needed: loading plates, giving a spot, helping with form critique, yelling out cues, organizing training times, getting singlets printed, or simply emotional support.
I will admit that after the first Saturday training session I was exhausted after squatting heavy and then loading weights and doing the math for 3 other females. Over the next couple weekends it settled into a routine that I truly enjoyed. It was fun to show up and see the same people who were training for the same purpose. I felt like I really started to become a part of the team and got to know everyone on a more personal level. Plus, getting to see strong females lift were a true inspiration for me. I am talking about you Annie, Lakesha, Terie & Kayse!
Getting Comfortable with Wes Not There
Honestly, one of the things I dreaded the most was not having Wes there on the heavy days 3 of the weekends. I had never lifted heavy without him there to spot, encourage or give me verbal cues to get me through. What really surprised me though is that when I knew he was going to be gone I took the initiative to ask the regulars at the dungeon to help with spots when need days in advance.
Then, when I knew I would be in Arizona for my last heavy deadlifting session before the meet I researched and found a gym to train at before even arriving. Not something I would have ever done a year ago, but now it has become a part of who I am. Although not having Wes there made me uneasy I was able to get through and grow. When I got to the gym to deadlift heavy I felt like hell. Having a 3 hour flight, sleeping on a hard bed, and not eating like normal made my body angry. Doing a rep out deadlift at 96% of my max was intimidating with being in a new gym and using a stiff bar. With the 215 pounds sitting in front of me on the floor I started to get ridiculously nervous about the thought of trying to get 2 reps with the way I felt, but had to remind myself what is the worst that could happen? I didn’t get 2 reps! At that point I cranked my music and stepped up to the bar with a purpose and pulled it twice. The second rep was one hell of a grind, but I got it! I found myself getting a little more comfortable being uncomfortable.
Training with a Purpose
The 8 weeks of training honestly felt very similar to the last year of training, but the main difference is that I trained with a purpose and was more committed. Over the last year I have never missed getting in my weeks training set before me, but with traveling I had every excuse to make to try and move my heavy lifting days. I know the importance of why your training days are set up the way they are and moving them especially that close to a meet is not a smart move. Plus, if you are able to lift heavy when feeling like crap you can only imagine how much easier it will be when you are feeling good. At least that is what I kept telling myself.
The 8 weeks of training consisted of 7 weeks laid out just like I outlined above. The last week was a meet prep week where you are allowing your body to rest. Nutrition, sleep, and very light workouts are key!
Check back tomorrow for my next blog post all about weigh ins and meet day!
How did I get here?
Ever since the beginning of 2013 I started training to get strong with my friend and coach Wes Keith. Over the year he put me through different programs almost as if I was going to compete at a meet, but then never would.
One Sunday morning I woke up to a text from Wes and it ended up going a little something like this:
Wes: I am hosting a powerlifting meet here March 1st and you should do it
Wes (before I could respond): No you shouldn’t do it, you are doing it and if you don’t I won’t train you anymore!
Me: What? That isn’t fair!!!
Me: If I am doing it then I want Stephanie to do it with me.
Wes: Sure, we will discuss this later today at the dungeon (22nd Street Barbell)
At this point my heart was racing because I knew I didn’t have a choice. Honestly, I saw this day coming, but just not so soon. Competing in a powerlifting meet wasn’t something I really saw for myself. More instead just a spectator who had an appreciate for the sport. I always thought if I ever did decide to do one it would be a non-sanctioned meet to just get my feet wet and see if I liked it.
Upon arriving at the dungeon I told Stephanie about the meet and she basically threw out a hell no at me, but that she would come cheer me on. I knew at this point I was going to be forced into doing this meet and on top of that doing it alone. Sunday Wes and I didn’t really talk about it much and just let the thought linger in the air.
Tuesday was training day during lunch and we were getting ready to squat and Wes walks up and says, “so, are you going to do the meet?” I snap back with saying how I didn’t have a choice. He comes back with the you always have a choice comment. But, then he dug a little deeper and said then why are you training? Why do I keep making you peek for a meet and then nothing happens? Of course I fire back with saying how I never asked for that, but simply just asked to lift to get strong. My goals were to build muscle and shed fat. Wes retaliates with the yeah and we have been doing that, but your goals are going to change as you change.
Sorry for the long back story, but as you can see my road to signing up for this meet is not like most. Most do it because they want to and not because they feel like they have to.
When did I get on board?
I knew that in a week I would start an 8 week training cycle to prep for the meet. In that time Wes and I were chatting via text and I continued to display my fear and doubt. Wes said to me that he wanted me to do the meet because he believed in me and wanted something bigger for me. That he knew I was ready for this and how he wanted this opportunity for me so I could learn something new about myself and what it is I wanted out of training. It pains me to say this, but at that point I knew he was right. Wes talks a lot about needing to learn being comfortable with being uncomfortable. Well, things were about to get real uncomfortable for this girl. From that moment on I said well I have 8 weeks to prepare and I can either make the best of those 8 weeks or wine about it and perform poorly in front of a few hundred people.
So, as I always do I sat down and looked at my calendar and started planning to get mentally prepared. Wes had told me that I would train heavy on the weekends and I would do that with him down at the dungeon. Based on that I started having a mini freak out session filled with heart palpitations when I knew he would be gone 2 of the weekends competing at his own powerlifting meets and another one I would be gone 2 weeks out from the meet with my sisters visiting my dad in Arizona. Obviously this got me concerned and wondering how we were going to make this all work since I wasn’t used to training heavy alone or with anyone else. Wes assured me it all would be fine and we would figure it out. On the inside I knew he was just saying it to keep me calm, but there was really going to be no planning going on, but just dealing with it!
Check back in the next couple of days for my next blog where I will talk all about the 8 week training cycle leading up to the meet.
The first week of training came and went. Gave me some confidence by finally starting to get to put some weight on the bar even though it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. Plus, the fact that I didn’t get crazy sore after any of the workouts was an extra bonus.
Day 1: Tuesday during lunch break @ Gold’s
Front squat with belt and a pause in the hole: 5x3 @ 80 pounds
BB upright row: 10 @ 65 lbs, 10 @ 85 lbs, 10 @ 105 lbs immediately followed by 10 @ 60 lbs
Circuit of the following three exercises 3 times:
Day 2: Wednesday before work @ Gold’s
Reverse incline skull crushers: 3x12 @ 30 lbs (did slow and controlled because going up in weight means jumping to 40 lbs)
DB press: 3x10 @ 20 lbs, 25 lbs and 30 lbs
DB front raise: 3x10 @ 10 lbs
DB side raise: 3x10 @10 lbs
BB curls: 3x10 @ 25 lbs, 30 lbs and 35 lbs
Alternating DB curl: 3x10 @ 15 lbs
Rope press down: 3x15 @ 30 lbs
Day 3: Saturday morning @ 22nd Street Barbell
Squat: worked up to my working set and then hit 145 lbs for 6
CAT DL (speed work): 5x3 @ 160 lbs
GHR: called for 100 total so I did 4 sets of 25
Abdominals: did 3 planks each for 1 minute
*Trained with Terie, Kara, Jesi & Lakesha who made me look like a weakling, but gave me that motivation to get stronger.
Day 4: Sunday afternoon @ 22nd Street Barbell
Bench press: went in with a working max of 140 lbs, but due to my butt coming off the bench when pushing my first working set of 115 lbs we had to go back to basics and develop a new set-up. My butt coming off the bench hasn’t been an issue because I wasn’t competing, but the problem is that if my butt comes off on all of my bench presses none of the lifts will count in a meet and I will be disqualified. So Wes decided to drop by working max 15%, which leaves me at 120 lbs working max for now until I get the kinks worked out.
Bench press with a pause & commands: 100 lbs
Bench press off 2 boards with pause & commands: 1 @105 lbs and 1 @ 110 lbs
DB incline press: 3x10 @ 20 lbs, 25 lbs, and 30 lbs
Dips with feet up: called or 100 so did a set of 30 and then 2 sets of 3 repts
Band press downs: 4x25
Alternating DB curls: 4x12 @15 pounds
Making things official!
I just turned in my registration so it is now officially real and to top it off I bought the damn singlet I am required to wear. At this point I am just trying to focus on enjoying the process. This first week we really focused on making sure to hit depth on squatting and getting used to the pause on bench press. Also, pumped that a lot people from 22nd Street Barbell will be competing. Will make for a lot of familiar faces and support throughout the entire 8 weeks!
The holidays left me feeling a little bit like a fatty this year. Ever since I tried the gluten free diet I have adopted a diet that isn’t entirely gluten free, but has a noticeable decrease in high carb foods because I felt better.
The holidays at our house is a time of delicious food that is sure to put you into a sugar and carb loaded coma. My mom’s abilities in the kitchen are incredible and that is why the holidays are a time we look forward to all year round. Well at least I do! This year though the homemade breads, pastas, and cookies left me feeling lethargic and chunky. At no point will I ever say no to those foods not only because they are a family tradition, but because they are freaking incredibly delicious.
After the holidays my mom and I both made the same comment of how we wouldn’t be stepping on a scale or debate whether to take back any pants we received as gifts until at least a couple of weeks past.
Just before the New Year the idea was thrown around and then confirmed that I would be doing my first powerlifting meet as I discussed in my previous blog. It basically made me want to focus on eating even that much more consciously by feeding my body good nutrients. So these last couple of weeks I started making simple little changes in my daily eating.
Over the last 2 weeks I was more conscious and disciplined as to what was going in my mouth. Was I perfect? Hell no! My co-workers can vouch when this past Friday I had a severe craving for donuts so I went to Dunkin Donuts where they proceeded to give me what appeared to be day old donuts. Obviously I was disappointed and wished I had never eaten them, but I knew that if I didn’t I would sit and think about them and eat everything in site. I personally believe that if you have a craving for something go eat it and get it out of your system.
I tried on a new pair of jeans today that 2 weeks ago I wedged myself into and could barely breath while my muffin top spilled over the top of the jeans. FYI, muffin top runnith over your pants is a pet peeve of mine. Swallow your pride and realize you need to buy at least one size up, which is what I did that day in the store 2 weeks ago. If you don’t want to then work on losing the fat. Only one person can control the amount of fat on their body and that is you. This morning that size up were huge on me so I went back to exchange them for the size down that produced the nasty muffin top and they fit perfectly. Almost like they were made for me. Not too many other things in this world make a girl happier than fitting into a pair of jeans they have their heart set on.
Each New Year I am not big into resolutions, but say that I want to lead a healthier life than the year before. This year is no exception! Now, I also plan to set more goals and work to attain them. I like the idea of constantly striving for something so we I don’t remain stagnant, unfocused, and unmotivated.
On that note it is time to hit the dungeon and finish up the last workout in my first week of the 8 week prep. It felt good to get back to the gym and start moving some weight. Nothing real heavy, but much more than what I had lifted in the previous 2 weeks. Keep in mind all those changes in the last 2 weeks were not from any crazy working out. I was actually working out less than usual because I was on a deload. It was all from a changed diet. Most things in life don’t come easy, but with some hard-work, dedication, planning, and support from those around you you can make it happen!
Happy 2014 everyone!
Well, I am officially a week into being a little bit of an emotional wreck. Sunday I was at first informed and then minutes later told that I will be competing in my first powerlifting meet. Wes said either compete or he would stop training me! #JawHitFloor
Over the last year I have had a blast training to be strong. I have felt good throughout the process, learned a lot, met some great people, and love the changes I have seen physically and mentally in myself. All that being said lifting has became a big part of who I am, but I never saw myself doing a powerlifting meet anytime soon.
The truth is I am just going to have to find a way to come to terms with the fact that I am about to get destroyed in my first powerlifting me. This probably is the toughest part of the entire process. Sports is where I have always excelled because I always busted my ass. But, I will be going up against people who have been doing this for years or have a ridiculous passion for powerlifting and they will dominate me. Like Wes has said it isn’t about what you lift, but is about the effort you put in.
My 8 week training cycle starts on Tuesday. I am coming off a solid 1 week deload with a light week before that as well. Emotionally I have been frustrated not getting to lift because I have felt good and of course after the holidays all I have wanted to do is get back into the gym and work off all the extra treats. Constantly having to reminding myself to believe in the process.
The next 8 weeks outside of work are going to be focused to training, eating a clean diet, prehab, and making sure I am getting enough sleep. It really won’t be much of a change for me. Over the last couple of years I have always tried to be conscious of what foods I put in my mouth, but now it will mean less treats. I think feeding my body the right nutrients will be the difference between me seeing any gains in the next 8 weeks. Protein consumption is going to be a MAJOR focus. Getting to the gym 4 days a week is who I am so there will be no issues with making it their. Making the lifts and getting through the workouts might be a different story.
By Tuesday I need to come to the realization that this meet is going to happen and I can either make the best of the next 8 weeks or be a Debbie downer. Powerlifting is a community and I am lucky to be a part of the 22nd Street Barbell crew, but at the end of the day only one person can move the weight and that is me. We show up as a team and support each other, but it is up to me to step up and show my strength.
Thank you for believing in my Wes and maybe some day I will thank you for pushing me to do my first powerlifting meet!
Well after lifting for 11 months today was my first ever real glimpse into what it would be like to compete in a powerlifting meet. It wasn’t because I had the itch, but because I was told it was all part of the process. I was put on the Sheiko training program recently without knowing it and that program requires a mini meet. At least that is what I have been told!
A majority of my training occurs at Gold’s Gym, but a couple of Sunday’s a month I will go down to the dungeon. It is where the powerlifting crew 22nd Street resides. If you want to get strong this is the place you go in Des Moines no questions asked.
The difference between lifting weights at Gold’s versus the dungeon is night and day. Lifting with metal plates is noticeably heavier than using the rubber bumper plates at Gold’s. So after I hit 170 pounds on squat for my first rep today they looked over at me and said that is equivalent to what it felt when you hit your 190 pound squat PR at Gold’s awhile back. After that I hit 180 pounds on squat and was called my final attempt because I pitched forward a little bit. It is frustrating when you are moving more weight, but the number you report is lower. The only people who understand the difference in the weights are those who have experienced it!
Next up was bench press. My current one rep max on bench is 135 pounds at Gold’s and it was a painful grind to get that. I don’t think I will ever forget that day not only because it was the most straining I have ever done during a lift, but because that was the day I could say I could bench with a plate on each side. Today I successfully hit all 3 lifts and the last was 140 pounds of real weight. I did have to grind for a few seconds, but once I got past it the lockout came pretty easy. This would be equal to 145-150 pounds easily at Gold’s!
Now to the last lift of the day. My current PR was hitting 225 pounds for two reps at Gold’s Gym a little under two months ago. Today, my second pull was 225 pounds and it was amazing how much more difficult it was to lift. REAL WEIGHT was the key today. I failed 235 twice so my current PR will now be 225 pounds of real weight versus plastic bumper plates.
I will admit that at the end of the session I felt defeated and frustrated. Defeat and failure are not something I handle well. Then, I had to remember it is part of the process of training. When I hit my original squat, bench, and deadlift PR’s I weighed about 8-10 pounds more. So the fact I have been able to maintain and build strength while shedding fat means my coefficient has improved. Personally there is no powerlifting meet in site for me, but your coefficient is the difference between taking home first and second.
In the end I need to remember to celebrate my successes along the way. I definitely feel much stronger than I did 11 months ago, 6 months ago and even 2 months ago. It has been a constant changing process. I need to be happy with the fact I handled 140 pounds on bench today and I am almost to my goal of benching my body weight!!!
Thank you to all of my support crew out there. Hopefully next time I will have some new PR’s to report!
Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on those things you are thankful for. I personally try to lead a life of being thankful for the amazing people in my life on a daily basis. Sometimes I am not always the best at showing or saying it so here are a few special thank you:
Lastly, thank you to anyone and everyone who has crossed my path. Each and everyone of you has an an impact on my life and I am grateful for that!
I started lifting to get strong with the start of 2013. My trainer and friend told me that I would need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Wasn’t really fan since I had no idea how uncomfortable it would get. Let’s just stay that in the last 11 months there has been a whole lot of uncomfortableness experienced by me when it comes to weight training.
Today while training I had a realization of how much I have grown. Today was a light squat day with 5 sets of 3 at 135 pounds. For all of you out there that don’t lift that is a bar with a 45 pound plate on each side. Also known as intimidating as hell for first time female lifters! While I was in the middle of my sets I realized that if you would have asked me to squat 135 pounds without a spot 6 months ago I would of had a mental freak out session with myself and wouldn’t feel comfortable squatting. Not today my friends. I killed it and felt really good doing it!
Today I also had to bench 125 pounds for a single rep twice. Up until 3 weeks ago I would have told you that was heavy weight, but not after last Wednesday when I was informed I was going to bench 170 pounds off of 4 boards for 2 sets of 3. When I saw that as part of my workout for the day I literally thought my trainer had lost his damn mind!
Here is my history with benching: About 4 months ago I went for a PR and hit 135 pounds, but failed 140. The 4 months after that were spent doing speed work and higher reps. So, 2 weeks ago when I was told I had to bench 155 pounds off of boards I flipped, but 170 the following week……you high?
Today was a simple 125 pounds, which made me feel happy because honestly 2 sets of 3 of 170 pounds on bench was the most uncomfortable and painful benching I have ever experienced. The only hiccup was that I knew I wouldn’t have a good hand out. So I knew I was going to have to do a full 125 pound bench twice with most likely the 2 worst hand outs known to man. Guess what…..I was right! The guy who handed out to me literally pulled my back up off the bench and then dropped the weight decently quick on me. So instead of my back staying nice and tight and locked into position during the hand out I had to make sure the weight didn’t come crashing down on my chest first and then reset before making the attempt. Yeah, not efficient!
Then, on top of that I told him to spot me because I haven’t done a full range 125 pound bench in awhile. So, what does he proceed to do? He crouches down and follows the bar down to my chest and back up with his hands not anywhere near the bar. Stellar performance…..NOT! I was pretty proud of myself that I felt comfortable enough benching 125 pounds today, not only once, but twice with the worst hand out and spot!
Today was a happy dance moment inside. I realized how much I have grown in the last 11 months. The things that used to make me uncomfortable now bring a sense of comfort. I have always preached to celebrate your successes along the way and today is one of those days for me so I am going to celebrate!