Friday, August 30, 2013

In Defense of Lululemon

I've been reading a lot of bad press about Lululemon. Articles saying they shun larger sizes and are therefore sexist. They are a cult. They were run by a weirdo and there for those associated with the brand must be weird.

Internet bashing and psuedo-intellectual/ egalitarian outrage is so hot right now. So on trend.

Size snobbery

I am a competitive powerlifter and weightlifter. My idea of cardiovascular conditioning is pushing a 200-plus pound sled along a street for sprint intervals. As such, I'm not built like your average lady. As such, most stores do not carry clothes that cater to my shape. In all my attempts at finding jeans, I have found one cut from one brand that works most of the time. Not all of the time, just most.

I could cry and moan about how the fashion-industrial complex is kowtowing to patriarchal standards of how women should look and be shaped. How, through clothing, society is trying to tell me that being strong, and athlete shaped is wrong. Blah blah blah. I realize I'm part of a population minority. And I don't expect most places to cater to me. I'll never be able to buy pants or jackets at H&M or any locally fashioned clothing store.

But guess what? Lululemon fits me better than Adidas. Better than Nike. Better than Reebok. Athleta fits well, but Lululemon still fits better.

Instead of bitching about my physique being discriminated against, I just spend my money at places that do fit.


This I honestly don't know about. My boyfriend loves the shirts he finds there. The CEO at his company only wears Lulu shirts at work. Many of the guys I work with wear the board shorts. Doesn't seem like they're getting turned away.

Cult Employees

This claim comes from news that Lululemon encourages and pays for their employess to take the Landmark courses. Landmark is considered to be culty. I have some understanding of this because I took some similar "culty" classes myself a year ago, and have friends and acquaintances who have done Landmark.

Landmark is a form of Large Group Awareness Training. What they set out to do is through group activities, one on one interactions, and follow up discussions, help you understand how your reactions to events and interactions shape the way you move through your life and within relationships.

The reason it seems culty to most is that (1) the members are encouraged to enroll their friends and family into the courses. When friends and family come to the "graduation" they are given a sort of hard sell about it. This puts off a LOT of people.

That plus (2) they can't really let you in on the specifics of the training and what goes on. The exercises and interactions are all meant to be fresh to the participants. You will behave differently with no prior warning than if you have time to contemplate the "correct" way to approach a situation. Key discoveries lie in the newness of the experience. However, from the outside, the secrecy seems weird.

Many people have some real big realizations in how they react to these exercises is how they react to situations in life. It gives them the awareness to make better decisions, or at least have more options, in how they approach people, relationships, and situations.

They are run by weird Chip Wilson

He's actually not at the helm anymore. Either he stepped out or was forcibly replaced by Christine McCormick Day.

From what I've read, his "weirdness" is all about his obsession with Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged". So much so that they apparently had some "Who is John Galt?" stuff on their shopping bags and website. When the world of yoga tends to lean liberal, you have to imagine that blatant libertarianism or conservatism is going to have a backlash.

But for me, I just can't get politically worked up by yoga clothes that actually fit me, and don't make me stink to high holy hell. Speaking of....

Ridiculously Expensive

Yes, a pair of Wunderunder tights could run $90. It helps that I get a discount for being a trainer/ coach. But here is the thing, these days I almost only wear Lululemon, Reebok, and Athleta. Why? They treat their fabric with anti-microbial silver ions. And it fucking works.

I'm in these clothes all day. And it's not just during my workout that I get sweaty, I'm working as I teach and run around and whatnot. Also, I tend to split my own training sessions into parts throughout the day, and I don't want to carry three outfits with me. When I was all "I'm not paying over $70 for tights" and just wore Nike, Adidas, and Champion, I always smelled like a dumpster diver by the end of the day. I bit the bullet, switched to these more expensive pieces, and wow, no smell! Also, better fit.

So I get that some people are gonna get riled up about a few or all of the above topics. But I'll still be voting for Lulu with my dollars.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Training Log Stardate 201308024: Week Post Competition

The previous Saturday was the Tommy Kono VIII. This past week I realized I misremembered what the super heavyweight qualifying total was. Turns out I did 3 kg more than I needed to. Those 3kg put me in first though. From a first meet, only goal was to qualify perspective, that was pretty stupid. It was risky, especially with that 95kg clean miss. But luckily, it all turned out in the end.

By the way, here is a compilation of my lifts from the Kono, compliments of Hannah Kang, lifter and fellow FuBarbell Panda:

Back to the grind!


Luckily my normal programming has me just doing upper body things off the bat. Nice to give the legs a break post-competition. Snatch grip push presses for fives at 143lbs and normal push presses for threes at 148lbs. Followed up with a CrossFit Football workout of
6 rounds:
Three 153lb hang power cleans
20 m short shuttle sprint (5-10-5)
= 4:46


Front squats. Feeling strong, seeing as I TOTALLY GORGED myself on things like brownies, pancackes, ice cream, horchada, wine, and chocolate on Sunday after the meet. Four sets of three and one final set of five at 255lbs. Important number, equals 116kg. Saying goes, if you can front squat it for three, you can clean it. I've cleaned 116kg in my "hey day", some day I'll test my clean and see how close I get these days.


Testing my overhead squat. It felt great a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't have time, nor the inclination, to really push it. This time I took it up to 93lbs. Yeah, baby weight, I know. It's less than 30% of my back squat. I would walk out of the rack and my back and legs would feel like, "hey, light weights!" then I pop it overhead and my shoulders were all, "HEAVY! WTF?!?!"

Clean-front squat-jerk combo after. Worked up to 98kg and stopped. That's one kilo over what I did at the Kono, plus the 4:30 class was starting at UB, so it was time to call it quits for the day. I then took the squishy foam roller and fell asleep behind the desk for about 30 mins.


Back squat max effort day! Worked up to 305 for 4, tried 315 but only got 2. Oh well, 315 was a weight that was perpetually out of my grasp only a year ago. Drop set at 245lbs and speed sets at 155lbs.

Cardio abs day! We missed out on Tuesday due to car issues on my end. 25-20-15-10-5 reps in rounds of kettlebell swings at 1.5 poods and PVC pipe sit ups. I got to introduce DFu to those. I'm pretty sure she loved them. I finished up with my volume bench presses, four sets of 3 and one set of 5 at 130lbs.

I hate how quickly my legs get strong, and yet I have to fight tooth and nail for arm strength. Even at 10 lbs lighter than I was about a month ago, pull ups are stuck at four. Ugh.


Deadlifts! I changed around what I normal do this week since I missed deadlifts due to the Kono last week. It takes me a couple of days to recover from heavy deads, so I won't do them the week of a competition. I worked up to a triple at 375lbs (though my third was shy from lockout by an inch), drop set at 290lbs, and speed sets at 225lbs.

Unfortunately, it didn't turn into a PROWLER FRIDAY! James was using the prowler for his OPT training, and Trent had a client when it was free. I did a CFFB workout on my own instead.
4 rounds:
- Row 250
- 5 DB snatches Rt, 50#
- 5 DB snatches Lt, 50#
- 5 burpee pull ups
= 12:50

I'm pretty sure I don't push as hard when I do things on my own as compared to when I join class or get in on the bro sessions. I probably could have not spent as much time on the burpee pull ups as I did (I missed my first one in dramatic fashion) and I could have upped the dampener on the rower for more leg drive. OH WELL!!


Helene, our trapeze instructor, is out of town. So after I taught the powerlifting class I stayed behind and tested out my snatches.


I mean. Last time I tried honest-to-god snatches, I stopped at 38kg (~84lbs) because they hurt in a sketchy sort of way. NO SKETCHY SENSATIONS AT ALL!!! The only "hurt" that I felt was from muscle strain since my shoulders are so much weaker than they used to be, and my ego from missing lifts at less than what I currently power (curtsy) snatch.

Seeing as this is the first time I've actually fully snatched since the 2012 American Open 8 months ago, things are a little rusty. A few that are super obvious:

- My hips shoot up faster than my shoulders. My hamstrings and back were feeling the previous day's deadlifts, but still. I need to keep my chest up better.

- I don't always finish my second pull with as much aggression as I need. If I strike the bar with my shoulders up rather than behind the bar, it's going to loop further out and I lose it forward. You can see that happen a couple times at 58 kg.

- My footwork is whack. If you notice on my Kono lifts video, I don't move my feet for the power snatches. It's so high I don't have to, there is no risk of my having to squat it down. It's been 8 months of no footwork and my feet are slow to move and don't always hit the mark of where they should be.

- I don't get under the bar quick. Dropping under the bar and footwork are two things that I never had to think about previously. As long as I finished my hip extension, everything else would fall into place. Now I find myself catching high and riding down and I'm sure this has a lot to do with fearing and expecting the sketchy pain to rear it's ugly head.

I was so psyched to not feel shoulder pain that I went to Lululemon and treated myself to some sales rack stuff. The sales rack prices are better than my R&D trainer discount. Bright pink tights and neon orange sports bra FTW!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Trying Something New: Swim Class

I'm not that comfortable in water. In fact, I'm more comfortable with heights than I am in water. I sink. I'm slow. I always get water in my mouth, nose, and ears. I don't mind splashing around in a river where I can touch the ground, or I'll go rafting and kayaking. But I'm just not going to find SWIMMING to be a fun endeavor.

So when the owners of San Francisco CrossFit arranged a swimming lesson for the coaches, I knew I had to do it. Maybe it will decrease my weirdness a little.

I was definitely anxious going into it. I'm athletic, but my anxiety around water will certainly keep me from seeming that way.

We started out by just talking about body positioning while underwater versus on top of the water, what to do with the legs, and the feel we should have during movement. Here is something that no one ever told me before: when on the surface of the water, you swim "on your side." You are actually supposed to roll from side to side.

This is how I always looked, head down, shoulders squared, but with more flailing and bubbles. 
Why did no one ever teach me this? Because I don't "do" water. I guess that's why. When would I have ever learned? Their explanation was, when you're under water, you want to stay long and square with the ground to be aerodynamic. But when you're at the surface, you want to minimize your interaction with surface tension. You do that by being on your side for most of the time.

Up on her side, reaching arm out of the water. 
You know, if someone had taught me that ONE thing before my SCUBA certification swim test, I would have gotten through it in probably 2/3 the time it took me with my freestyle flailing.

Water is an asshole.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Tommy Kono VIII: Meet Recap

Friday night, Christine, Zach, Diane, Matt and myself all drove into Sacramento. Despite being in separate cars, we all arrive at the hotel at the same time. Sacramento is cheap. Two beds and a pull out sofa bed for $100 a night. On a Saturday. Awesome!

I woke up Saturday morning, stepped on the scale and weighed 170.6 lbs. Reminder: I was supposed to weigh in at or below 165 lbs by 2pm. I decided I wasn't even going to try that. Five and a half pounds is just too much for a local meet.

So as a 75+kg lifter, I would have to lift 166kg to qualify for the American Open. I was prepared to do 156kg as a 75kg lifter. Di and I decided we'd go for it anyway.

Sacramento is freaking hot. And a high school is a friggin' sauna when there is no air conditioner turned on.

At weigh ins I put down 60kg and 90 kg for my openers. Those were the numbers we'd use if I was going for the 156 total. As I warmed up the snatch, my "curtsy snatch", I decided to open at 63kg, which was my planned second attempt.

63kg went fine. I asked for 66kg. Diane made double sure since I hadn't gone over 65kg in practice since my shoulder hurt at that weight. I said that if it hurt, I'd forfeit my third snatch, banking on adrenaline to help me pop the weight higher than I normally do. Sure enough, weight flew up and no pain.

I'm sure it helped that I was sweating balls from the heat and there was no chance of my shoulder cooling down.

I called for 69kg next, deciding that it all felt so good and I was already in "uncharted territory" so I might as well give myself as much breathing room as I can in the clean and jerk to qualify. 69kg went up without a hitch as well.

Pardon the quality, the video was taken on a phone and then texted to me. I can only do so much magic. 

Next up, clean and jerks.

A snatch of 69kg means I needed a clean and jerk of 97kg. I've done that, so I'd just need to keep my wits about me (it was getting really late in the day) and be smart with my warm ups. We decided to shoot for 92kg, 95 kg, 97kg.

During warm ups, my jerks felt great, but the weights felt heavy in my hands. That's the problem with large heats, your adrenaline spikes for the snatches, then your energy drops off. Now you have to warm up your clean and jerks while struggling from an adrenaline crash. I had to just keep reminding myself that it doesn't matter how my arms feel, this is all about my legs.

92kg went up just fine. 95kg, however, well, let's just say that I haven't competed in a while. In competition, there is a 30 sec warning buzzer to let the athlete know how much time is left to start the lift. If you stop the timer during the 30 second buzzer, it makes a double buzzer sound that is similar to the missed lift buzzer. Basically, I start my 95kg clean on the buzzer, the guy stops the timer at the buzzer, and I catch the clean thinking I've been called on a technical foul and just let it go. Oops.

I should know better. But it's been a long time. My thoughts were in a million different directions when that sound went through my head.

I still needed to make 97 kg and I had a two minute clock. We decided to go for it, so Di went to make the incremental jumps to give a little extra time to rest. 97kg went up easily, with some bobbles during the jerk recovery. That's it! I qualified!

I was the last clean and jerk of the evening, around 9:15pm. I hadn't cared to followed what anyone else had lifted. I knew a girl opened in the snatch bigger than I had finished, so I assumed I was in second in the end. Turns out, my 97kg clean and jerk put me in first! Cherry on top, I must say!

It all turned out far better and more dramatic than I expected the day to be. I'll be riding this high probably through at least Monday. Then, back to the grind.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Making Weight Mind Fucks

Making sound dietary decisions when faced with an emotionally taxing hobby can be really tough.

After surgery I let myself "get fat" on Milano cookies and lethargy. At the time, coming from a place where I was so mentally burned out from competitive training, it was a hugely therapeutic thing for me.

In trying to get down to my 75kg weight class (165lbs) I've made a few mistakes that is going to make the weight cut particularly close. All the while I have to remember that if I'm going to stay strong I have to get enough calories, and just make sure I don't slip into one of a few mentalities.

Too Far Temptations

One is the "I'm looking lean and good, how far can I take this and maybe eating less will get me there faster" headspace. It can be really hard, particularly as a lady, to dissociate what I'm trying to do with my weight loss from aesthetics. My job has me in front of people every day, and of course I want to look the part of a fitness coach. But everyday I'm reminding myself I'm a athlete, and my weight loss has to not affect my strength, and that means getting calories. Lots of calories.

Earning Your Food

Another headspace is the "I haven't done enough today to earn this protein shake/ bag of nuts/ piece of cheese/ sausage/ etc." This is the mantra that often gets unintentionally solicited through the adherence to calories in versus calories out. While this cal-in/cal-out might work for your average office worker, when you're training for a sport, your body is in a constant state of recovery. You're burning calories while you sleep. You're burning calories as soon as you're out of bed. A lot of calories. You don't need to continuously "earn" the next food thing.

Bad Dog! Eat Less!

Occasionally I screw up. Or I don't account for a corner I feel backed into. For instance, I went out to lunch with the boyfriend and his parents. They only care to eat Chinese food. So I pick something I assume to be the least sugary on the menu, a spicy meat and veggies dish. The next day, my weight is up 2-3 lbs. It's really tempting when faced with a set back like this is backslide into the calories in vs calories out mentality that is pushed. Really, I'm looking at water weight, and my brain gets that. But there is a knee jerk reaction I have to be prepared for.

Bad Dog! Do More Work!

The other side of the frustrated misstep coin is needlessly making yourself do more to account for the screw up. Like mentioned before, your body is already constantly recovering. If you put more work on it, that's even more recovery that you'll need. It's better to take a deep breath and stick to your original program.

Tuning Out the Kind but Misguided Compliments

I'm no longer the kind of girl that looks for aesthetic acceptance. I left that behind when I moved from ballet to judo as my main hobby/ sport. When I look at my body, I critique it like any normal human does, but I do it through the lens of visible musculature and what I'm able to accomplish with it. If I'm feeling strong, and maybe I see a little softness, it doesn't bother me. If I feel weak, and see more definition or a smaller waist, I chide myself for letting my nutrition get whack.

As such, when I'm cutting weight for a meet, I'll often feel weaker than I did before I started cutting. And sadly, that's when I hear compliments like "you're looking so lean!" and "you're getting skinny!" I know they mean to compliment me and genuinely think they are being nice. But in my head I think "you're just speaking from a societal influencesd perspective that says women are meant to be thin, and strength plays no role in beauty." On the outside, I smile. They ARE trying to be nice.

Moving on... 

I'm starting my hyper-hydration protocol this week, and I stop the water intake at 2pm today. I'm about 7 lbs above my weight class at this point, and that's okay. I'll end up where I end up, learn from these experiences, and do it all again for the next meet. Then I'll avoid these mistakes and make all new ones.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Training Log Stardate 081213: Last Heavy Week into Competition

Getting down to competition weight has been a rollercoaster for me in a way that it hasn't before. I'll be writing up an entire post on that topic, it's a sort of convoluted one.

Regardless of how my weight cutting efforts end up, this past week was my last full heavy week before my first meet back. Plan is to simply qualify for the American Open at this meet, no concerns about winning or placing or being flashy.

In fact, I've gotten tired of people asking me if I plan to win or try to win. Come on guys. SURGERY! It's been less than a year, it's just a local meet, I'm thrilled to be healthy enough to compete again and good enough to probably qualify for the national level. I'm still not 100% and I'm not going to push myself at though I'm 100%.


Jerk day, doubles out of the rack. I was able to get up to 208 lbs (94.5kg) for a double, but 213 lbs (97kg) wasn't having it. I got a single and missed the second. Put the bar back on the rack and missed the first one. So I dropped down to 193 lbs and worked my way back up in singles to 220 lbs (100kg). I was THRILLED to get that off the rack. Stopped there.

I tweaked my neck on one of the bad makes in the 200 lbs area, so I took it easy the rest of the day.


I didn't do anything. My neck was still bothering me and it was a 6am to 8pm sort of day. I had just enough stuff throughout the day that I couldn't even go home and rest, as I like to do when I have to wake up at 5am.


Lot's of work got done this time. I "made up" the missed front squats from Tuesday: four sets of 3 and one last set of 5 at 250 lbs. This series actually felt far, far easier than the same scheme at 245 lbs. Despite the weight loss, I'm still doing something right, whatever it is. :)

I then did a clean complex: power clean, clean high pull, clean. Worked my way up to 88 kg easily, then when I tried 91 kg, the "power clean" one pushed me all the way into the bottom. That's okay, after all, doing this after some heavy front squats, I can't complain.

I joined the United Barbell class that day since I was supposed to snatch in my programming and that was part of the WOD. First overhead squats. For the first time since surgery, I was able to do them without pain. NO pain. None! I worked up to 75 lbs, then it was time out and move on. Snatches. I warmed up with the 25 lbs technique bar. Whoa, so far so good. Catching it in the bottom and feeling great! 15 kg women's bar, same thing! 53 lbs, feels good. 35 kg, okay, here if I catch it a little off there is some ouchy. 38 kg, only if I catch it perfectly does it not hurt. And it's hard to catch it perfectly when I'm trying to fully control every part of the lift. Stop there.


My left shoulder is a little upset with me from the snatching. Nothing sketchy, just a little inflammed. I should have listened to that and done lower body stuff, but it was bench day by my programming to give the lower body a break. Lots of pre-bench mobility and warm up. Four sets of three and one final set of five in at 125 lbs. Cardio abs with DFu. Done!

Grinder Friday

Last heavy single day before the meet. I wanted Di to be able to watch some of my heavier attempts to get an idea of how I move, jumps I make, and how things change as I get heavier. After all, I usually lift on my own and if we want or need certain jumps, it's good for her to know where my strengths and weaknesses are. Got up to 99kg in the clean and jerk, 65kg in the power snatch. Plenty of buffer for qualifications.
Pulls should leave your hips as open as possible, not merely standing up straight. 

So now I've definitely push my shoulder too far. I had a client while the boys did their WOD, consisting of DB snatches and sprinting. I don't think I could have done the snatches anyway, my shoulder feeling the way it was.

I joined in for the partner prowler relay. It was three rounds of a 200m partner push, where each partner taps in and out as their legs start to give out. I worked with Wong, his legs last longer than mine, but mine seem to recover faster. So he's able to push for longer, I'll have to tap out sooner, but I'm able to tap back in again pretty quick which is good because when I tap out he's not quite recovered yet.

Then three rounds of 15 cal airdyne sprints. Ugh. Just ugh. I close my eyes through this one, try to find my happy place and let the boys count down as I get close to the end.

Something was really bugging my back by the end of the day. It wasn't there earlier, but it prevented me from squatting 225 lbs. Which sucks. Back squats are my thing. Oh well. I"ve done plenty of work that day.



I'm pretty sure some of the problems I have with trapeze skills is that I'm so bottom heavy. Most aerial performers have lots of upper body strength, and skinny legs. I'm the opposite.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Training Log Stardate 20130729: Gearing up for Competitions

I have a relatively full competition schedule coming up:

August 17: Tommy Kono VIII Olympic weightlifting competition, I hope to qualify for the American Open here.

September 7th: Power Athlete Team Series, United Barbell is sending two teams to compete in this CrossFit Football hosted event. Hence all my recent prowler work.

November 3rd: Women's Pro/Am Powerlifting Meet, I hope to attain my SPF Elite lifter classification here. If my training goes the way it has been, it shouldn't be too hard.

December 6-8: American Open Weightlifting Championships, I don't have any specific plans for this meet, as I can't predict how my shoulder will feel about full snatches by December. But it's in Texas, so perhaps some family will see me compete for the first time.

This will probably become even more full as I enter more weightlifting competitions in preparation for the American Open. I'm competition rusty and need all the experience I can get.

As such, with these dates looming ahead of me and my training progression going pretty well, it's easy for me to get caught up in making big lifts and watching post-surgery PRs tick up and up. And the problem is, I don't program myself to do that. I'm much smarter sitting on the couch with my weekly programming in front of me than I am when I'm standing over the barbell full of piss and bravado.


Back squat day. Did my four sets of three and this time made all five reps on my fifth set at 300 lbs. Next volume day I "get" to do 305. I followed it up with a 10 min AMRAP of KBS, rowing, and toes to bar. I don't push myself nearly as hard when I do conditioning on my own.


Here's mistake day number one. I was just supposed to test my power clean for the upcoming Power Athlete competition. Instead, I start with power clean and jerk, and continue going up with my normal clean and jerk. I make a PR in both, but this still starts me down the path of being beat up.

Finish with a CFFB workout of KBS, KB rack squats, and rack walks. I need as much back jackedness as I can get. Or I should say, I WANT as much back jackedness and I can get.


Front squat max effort day, I get up to 255 lbs for a triple, fail on the third at 260. Those are the same numbers from my triple test day a couple weeks ago. Hit my AMAP at 205, making 8 reps. Did some snatch grip push presses up to 60 kg for a set of five to finish off. Off day for conditioning.


Another day where I let me ego get the best of me. I was supposed to just do snatch high pull, power snatch, snatch high pull. But I know that I need a power snatch of at least 63 kg for qualifying, and the whole complex starting wearing me down around 60 kg. So I just start power snatching, no high pulls, and get up to 65 kg. I stop there, my shoulder started getting tight. Why do I do this to myself?

After teaching power lifting, I get in a quick bench press 1 rep max test. 155 lbs felt a little shaky on my shoulders so I stopped there. Get in some cardio abs with The Fu and be done with it.


Test my deadlift, this WAS part of my original plan. I was already feeling pretty beat down from the week, but eeked out a recent PR of 400 lbs. I haven't done 400 lbs since probably 2010. I'm doing something right I guess.

Did some conditioning work with the boys; ring hold, dips, handstand holds, handstand push ups. After slamming the shoulders, it's three rounds of prowler sprints with sandbag cleans. Always feels like hell and leaves me feeling good.


Matt and I were both feeling pretty beat up so we only did one trapeze class on Saturday. It was just the two of us with Helene, meaning we were on the trapeze a lot learning new things and practicing old tricks. Many new bruises behind my knees.

Sunday is mostly about me bribing Matt to smash out my quads and calves. They are gnarly mess of gnarly these days.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Playing with Your Attempts at an Olympic Lifting Meet

In my last post on competition attempts, I mostly gave outlines on how to choose your attempts. With weightlifting, you can make it a lot more complicated. Since the weight on the bar continues to go up, and you have three "declarations" per attempt, there are way to work things to your advantage and against others.

Declarations and attempts

With all of the following techniques, realize that you have three "declarations" per lift. For your opening lifts, your first declaration was given at weigh ins for both the clean and jerk and snatch. So now you have two chances to up the weight, two "declarations" of changes.

For your second and third attempts, there is an automatic one kilo increase assumed (if the lift was successful). This does not count as a declaration. So you and your coach have three chances to up the weight from there.

When your name is called, and the one minute (or two minute if you're following yourself) timer has started, you must make all declarations before the 30 seconds remaining buzzer sounds. Once that buzzer sounds, the weight on the bar, and the lifter who is supposed to take it, is locked in.

These are the basics, now the chess game can be played.

Finding more time to warm up

Giving a conservative opening weight during weigh ins isn't just about seeing how your body feels and being coy about your abilities. It also gives you some wiggle room to manipulate how much warm up time you get.

If you find that you need more time than you previously thought (damn bladder), your coach can use the increases to buy you a couple of minutes. Not only will you be jumping over some people, but your coach declares a weight no one else is taking, the time of loading the bar, plus the 30 seconds before the buzzer, can be time well spent.

Finding more time to recover between attempts

Typically, once you take your first attempt on the platform, you're not doing anymore warm-up backstage. You can manipulate your next declarations to expand the recovery time you have. If you don't like much, you'll probably want to go ahead and declare your next attempt. But if you want to eek out a couple of minutes, making jumps that aren't already on the cards will give you the time it takes to load the bar and call your name, plus the seconds before the buzzer.

Know that if they call your name, and you bump up to a weight that no one else is going to take, they simply pause the clock to change the weight. These seconds can certainly make you feel more recovered, but don't jump over someone's next attempt in hopes of getting more time.

Decreasing someone else's recovery time

This one only works if you and another person are taking consecutive attempts. When someone follows themself, they get a two minute clock. When you follow someone else, you get a one minute clock. If someone takes a lift, you're up next, followed by their next or last attempt, as soon as you have the clock started on you, your coach jumps your attempt over the other person. This means that officially, they only get a one minute clock to take their next attempt.

FYI: this is kind of a dick move, don't do it at a local meet. But if you're at Nationals and it's coming down to kilos and body weight to get on the podium, these moves are fair game. Which leads me to...

Winning by kilos vs Winning by body weight

Generally you win by lifting the most weight. But if there is a tie, the person with the lighter body weight wins. So when it comes down to final clean and jerk attempts, you need to know if you can win with one less kilo on the bar or not based on how you weigh respective to your opponent. At local meets, the body weights are written on cards and usually are displayed. At national meets, there is usually a large display with name, attempts made and missed along side body weight.

Forcing someone else's hand

Things can also turn into something of a poker game as it come down to the last 2-3 lifters in a session. Again, this is more of a national meet move, part of the "don't be a dick at the local meet"that I'd like to encourage.

Usually the top lifters have top lifts around the same place. So you bluff. Each person has three declarations to up their final clean and jerk in hopes of taking home first place. When it's down to the one kilo wire, you'll often see person A declare something high, person B higher, person A higher yet. This can go until all declarations are used or one lifter decides to call the bluff and take their own lift. You also see this a lot when one person could win by body weight.

Play this game with a little more caution, it's just as likely to come back and bite your ass as it is to bite them.

But I want to win my local meet, waaahhhhh!! 

Look, I'm not saying you CAN'T use these techniques at a local meet, but I am saying you shouldn't. Local meets are for practice, learning your strengths and weaknesses, putting it on the line, making yourself a better athlete, and perhaps accumulating medals to increase confidence. They are not a place to make enemies.

If or when you make it to a national meet, you're going to want as many friendly people around you as you can have, they are nerve wracking experiences. Don't burn bridges at home and expect people to cheer on "their local buddy" at the national meets.

In fact, and you certainly see this at meets in my local chapter, some of the above techniques are used to help out fellow lifters who are trying to qualify for various things. "Hey so-and-so, do you need more time before your next attempt? Cool, I'll do a couple jumps to give you some recovery space."

Main thing, of course, is to have fun and do your personal best. Ideally, make some friends along the way, the weightlifting world is full of interesting people.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Choosing Your Competition Attempts (Olympic Lifting Edition)

I wrote last week about considerations to account for when deciding attempts at a powerlifting meet. I started there because, despite the length of the article, it's actually pretty straight forward. Especially when you start comparing it to choosing attempts for an Olympic lifting meet.

I'll try to delineate, though I may just be opening up a complicated can of worms.

The complexity is due to the differences in how the meets are run. In a powerlifting meet, you rung through all the first attempts, reset the bar, then go through the second attempts, reset the bar, third attempts. Everyone gets approximately the same time to recover from each lift, and making weight changes barely impacts the lifters around you.

In Olympic lifting meets, the bar starts at the lowest first attempt out of everyone. Then weight is added to the bar and you take you 1st, 2nd, or 3rd attempts as your desired weight is reached. The bar is only reset back to baseline after all the snatches are complete and it's time for clean and jerks. That means choosing and declaring attempts becomes more of a chess game to gain you more recovery time, and if you're feeling aggressive, mess with the recovery times of other lifters.

Counting Attempts/ Timing Warm-ups

Since the weight on the bar for each lift continuously increases, you have to be prepared to take your starting and subsequent attempts based on everyone else's attempts. That means you'll need your coach to assist more than you would at a powerlifting meet, or else you're wasting time and energy walking from the warm-up area to the competition desk where the cards are organized. 

First, come to the meet with your warm up attempts written out. Everything. I'll have something like this for my snatches, the x# refers to sets at that weight, weight in kilos:

Bar x2
66 on platform

So all together that's 9 warm up sets I would take. (This will probably be my actual set for the Kono coming up, first meet back post surgery! I digress...) I typically allow for 2-3 on platform attempts per warm-up set, with the idea that it takes 30-60 seconds for an attempt to start and finish. That means I want to start my first empty bar warm up at 27 attempts out. 

The coach will go to the cards and count out the attempts. This is something that should really be demonstrated in person, and the people who run local meets are usually more than kind enough to help you or your coach figure that out. 

Assuming an easy meet, you can estimate that you'll take each subsequent warm ups after every 3 crashes you hear on the platform. Things that can make it tricky include:
     - When someone misses a lift, they get two minutes to take it again, lengthening your warm ups. 
     - People declare conservative numbers and bump them up as they get close to their attempts, meaning you could lose time as you get close to your starting weights. 
     - Your bladder decides IT REALLY NEEDS TO PEE as you get closer to your starting attempt. 

Experience will give you a feel for how to handle those situations, but mostly it's about being mentally prepared. 

First Attempt

If you've competed before, you don't want to start with something you've never done in competition before. If you've never competed, pick something you can easily do for a double. The name of the game here is to be confident, conservative, and set the tone for the rest of the meet. Don't open with a recent PR.

Second Attempt

Since your first lift is the snatch, your best bet is to take something in the range of 2 to 5 kg greater than your first attempt, assuming you made that one. This isn't the time to go for a PR, but a time to bolster your total.

For the clean and jerk, you already know the rankings after the snatch, and you generally have an idea of where you are falling after the first successful attempt since you'll be lifting around other who want to same weights. So now it's time to take jumps that will push you up the rankings. Unless you are trying to qualify for something and want two attempts at a NEEDED weight, this isn't the time for heroics.

An experienced coach will be able to take a look at the cards, where the order of lifters and their stated next attempts are listed, and get an idea of where you might end up with two good lifts. With the assumption that each lifter has stated something conservative and will bump up their weight by 1-5kg, you can make informed decision on how long you have to rest for your next lift if you want to go for something big.

Third Attempt

Snatch what you can. If you're feeling good, go for that 1kg PR, but since you still have one more lift to go, best do something perhaps you've done in training and would be a competition PR.

The clean and jerk is where you want to go for it. Being the power move that it is, you can really allow your adrenaline to work for you. It's not uncommon for someone to dig in and make a big PR so they can jump themselves up a placing or two. Know that you have to be happy with where you end up if you don't make the risky lift, though.

In conclusion:

You want to stay pretty conservative in the snatch. Never open with something you haven't done in competition on either lift. Leave your bravado for your last clean and jerk.

I'll write another post on how to play the numbers game, make the most of your jumps for rest or to play games with your opponents.