becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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12 weeks out – meet prep life.

i’ve decided to compete in another full power meet, on April 18th. even more exciting is that for the first time, i have a training partner! she’s also a grad student here, and we’ve been lifting together for about two months now on and off. she decided she wants to compete, so we’re running this meet prep cycle together. our pulls are almost exactly the same; i have a bigger squat but hers is way prettier than mine; and she never really benched regularly so while mine is bigger, hers will shoot up in the next few weeks.

this prep cycle is way lower volume than i’m used to – only four days of lifting per week, and big lifts on only two of those days. i wondered if having three “off” days would make me anxious or antsy, but so far i love it – the training days tax me so much i’m more then ready to take an entire day to recover before the next one!

mobility is a huge priority for me right now. it helps that i’m teaching yoga 5-6 days a week. plus i force my sorry butt to get up and do some spinal and hip work every morning before i go to the office. my back unlocked over break; now we’re just trying to keep it there!

my squat continues to plague me; my bench is growing slowly but steadily. we pull heavy on friday for the first time in ages, and that will determine openers. i’m shooting for 231/126/281. i hit 120 for twelve really fast singles on bench today so that bodes well. 126 was my second attempt last meet so it would be nice to open there or even 132 if i get some good training reps in these next few months.

i had lost my appetite – and a good deal of body weight – due to some crazy stress and anxiety earlier this month. everything is slowly getting back to normal, and my metabolic furnace is back to its usual spastic and speedy self.

and in other, less gym-y news, if you don’t follow me on instagram (@jenncanliftyou) already, go do that so you can watch videos of my girlfriend and i playing the ukulele and singing. it’s so cute i swear you’ll fall in love with us.

and i’m going to el paso next month for a conference. so there’s that too.

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surprises at every turn.

i’m officially done with the first week of 5/3/1. today was mys first day of week 2, in fact.

on my rep-out sets last week (minimum 5 reps; go till ya can’t go any more) i got 8 reps on deads (215#) bench (105#) and squat (135#), and a barely-there bare minimum on OHP (70#).

that taught me a couple of important things.

1. i’m way stronger than i thought. i was shooting for an 8-rep on pulls, but deadlifts are my strongest of the big three. no way did i think i could make 8 reps on bench that close to my max.

2. and no way did i think i was going to get 8 reps on squat. because, come on, my squat is crap.

3. …or is it? doing a lot of rotational ab work (booooo abs) is helping my hip flexors immensely, as is a new warm-up. i’m hammering my middle back (150 pullups a week, guys, come on) and it’s helping me stay tight and upright in the hole. my squat is a big mental game for me. once i get more confident, and as i continue to work on my posterior chain, i think it’s going to get crazy.

4. i also front squat 3×3 at 135# on friday. if we’re keeping track, my back squat 1RM was 130# in july. and i hammered out 3 triples at 135# on a freaking front squat. please refer to bullet point #1.

i’m liking 5/3/1 thus far. i chose the accessory option that is suuuuper high-volume (5×15 for everything) so while it takes a bit of time, it gives me the option to get my heart rate up and work on my weak spots. i’m also adding in a widowmaker set per lift, per week. this week it’s squats; next week i’ll bench it.

i have my eyes on blowing right through a 600# total at my next meet and making a move on 650#.

i should also maybe invest in some chalk, because this happened when i pulled 225# for 5 reps today:

Photo 103callous central. the 30 pull-ups a day doesn’t help, either.

i’m enjoying the program. i’m enjoying being challenged, and in turn being surprised at how much i have in there if i really dig my heels in.

it’s a good time to be a me.


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new training and other things.

tomorrow begins my new training cycle – i’ve been semi-delaoding/focusing on volume since the meet. now it’s time to start working on some sort of linear progression, and i’ve decided on wendler 5/3/1. it’s a pretty basic plan – 3 weeks of work, one week of deload, prescribed rep and percentage schemes for each week. one day each of bench, squat, OHP, and deadlift.

i’m modifying it slightly so that i’ll be squatting twice a week, the second day being a front squat cycle i’m running with my coach.

accessory work is mostly focused on hamstrings and middle back, with band pull-aparts, glute ham raises, and pull-ups in some variation at every workout.

i start tomorrow with deadlifts and i’m beyond excited.

i’m going to run at least two cycles of 5/3/1, which will take me right up the the end of the semester. you don’t really “max out” on the plan, but the last set of each big lift you’re supposed to rep out. so in theory i’ll be setting tons of rep PRs, which will translate to better overall strength (and will count as cardio for me lol). after i get back from the holidays we’ll kick into a 12-week training cycle for my next meet, and then i’ll be more focused on heavy triples, doubles, and singles.

but for right now i’m stoked to have a plan. there’s no reason i shouldn’t total well into the 600s at my next meet – i should have at least a 200# squat, 135# bench, and 320# deadlift, provided i don’t get injured any time during training and that my nerves don’t get the best of me on meet day. i benched 135 three weeks ago at the gym, and i pulled 281 so damn easy at the meet i might have 300 in me right now given some quality rest and my lucky pre-workout of a footlong sub and an americano.

and then…then i’ll be over the newbie gains wave and i’ll have to bust my ass to start chipping away at that 700# total.

watch out, world. i’m gonna get strong!


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survival and spitting fire.

Don’t worry about your body.
It isn’t as small as it once was,
But honestly, the world needs more of you.
You look in the mirror
like you’ve done something wrong,
But you look perfect.
Anyone who says otherwise is telling a lie
to make you feel weak.
And you know better.
You’ve survived every single day,
for as long as you’ve been alive.
You could spit fire if you wanted.

clementine von radics

first off, i love clementine von radics’ work, and if you haven’t heard of her, go here instead of reading the rest of this post.

something i haven’t talked about much (or at all) is how my shift in training, from distance running to powerlifting, has changed my body.

even when i was training for my half marathons i never had that endurance runner “look.” i’ve never been lanky and lean, that’s just not the way my body exists. i was seeded in the first wave (sub-8:00 pace) both times i ran the derby half, and looking around the corral as we were getting ready to go i remember thinking, “i am such a little brick compared to these people!”

then i got into powerlifting.

since july i have been training exclusively in powerlifting; i lift heavy most days of the week, and my cardio consists of lifting faster. i knew my body would change, but i have been honestly and consistently surprised by just how much.

without going into great boring detail, i have gotten bigger. there’s no sugar-coating it – my quads are bigger, my butt is bigger, my shoulders and back have gotten significantly broader.

and i’ll be honest, it’s been a huge adjustment mentally. i feel the most comfortable when i’m in the gym – partly because spandex is comfy (i know that seems counter-intuitive to some people, but if i could live in compression shorts and bro tanks, i would), and partly because when i’m in the gym throwing weight around, i don’t give two shits what i look like. all i know in that moment is i feel strong, and that’s all that matters.

but i definitely struggle in the mornings when i’m getting ready for work. we’re not in sundress weather any more; i’m stuck with a whole lot of separates, and they fit a lot differently than they used to. there are certain things i simply can’t wear right now – blazers that can’t contain my lats, jeans that have no prayer of holding my butt and thighs. and i’m not gonna lie, it’s tough. it’s difficult to intercept those thoughts of “oh my god i gained weight this is awful i’m fat” when they’re still – even after all this time – somewhat ingrained.

but then i get in the gym and i pull 250 pounds off the ground and think, “well shit, who cares if i have a big butt?! this body does some pretty damn cool stuff.”

so yes – my body is not as small as it once was. but when i think of all it can do, all it has survived, its size suddenly becomes irrelevant. and i know, damn well, that i could spit fire if i wanted.

(also, as an aside: fit and feminist linked my last post to their facebook page, and it generated a ridiculous amount of traffic last week. so thanks to the ladies there for the publicity, and thanks to all of you who visited and any of you who came back a second time!!)


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how making weight reminded me that weight is bullshit

last weekend i competed in my first powerlifting meet (and tied a state record bench and broke the state deadlift record, but that’s another post or another time). for those of you who are unfamiliar with how the sport works, there are three lifts – squat, bench, and deadlift, in that order – and you get three attempts at each. there are technical standards you have to meet with each lift, and you can compete raw (as i do, which means the only “equipment” you may use is a belt, knee wraps to squat, and wrist wraps to bench) or equipped (bench shirt, various other fancy suit-like things).

you also compete in weight classes.

the idea with weight classes is that it is to your benefit to be at the very top of yours. ie, i compete as a 56kg lifter. so when it comes time to weigh in, i want to be 55.9kg, not 53.5. which means that a lot of times you train at a higher weight than the weight at which you compete – in the weeks leading up to a meet you just cut out the extra weight.

now if you’ve been following along my little blogosphere, you may recall that i don’t own a scale. and i have not, in fact, owned one for several years. to be honest, one of the best parts about recovery was ditching the scale completely.

then my weight became something to be aware of, conscious of. i bought a scale, set it to kilos. i had to weigh 56kg or less on the day of my weigh-in in order to compete in the weight class we were aiming for.

the tuesday before weigh-in i weighed 58.5kg. i was panicking, texting my coach in a flurry. he kept telling me it would be fine. i was drinking tons of water (and peeing every ten minutes) to saturate my body with fluid; we readjusted my macros for the week so i was pushing tons of protein and keeping my carbs low. i watched my weight inch down. into the 57s i went. then on thursday night, i stopped drinking completely.

friday morning i woke up and was 56.1kg. i peed two more times that morning, drove to the venue after i taught my sophomores, and weighed in at 55.3kg.

the point of this isn’t to wow you with my ability to excrete fluid. it’s to make everybody step back and look at this objectively. i lost 3kg – that’s nearly 7lbs – in three days. i was eating six-egg omelets and what seemed like entire chickens every day. i was teaching and going to class and doing homework. i didn’t lose body fat – i lost fluid. that number – the number so many of us at one time or another get tied to, chained to – was nothing more than a gauge of how much i peed.

so yea, i lost about 5% of my body weight in less than half a week, and you know what? it doesn’t mean shit. i went home after i weighed in, drank a liter of pedialyte and some gatorade, ate waffles and eggs for lunch and had a whitefish sandwich for dinner, and weighed 58.5 kg the next morning as i got ready for the meet.

i’ll say it again: weight. is. bullshit.

the entire week was almost like passing through the looking glass to that mythological place where weight really is just a number. for the past few years it hasn’t even been that for me – if somebody were to ask me my weight, i would have given them a ballpark 15-pound range. i was that divorced from my weight. and that served me beautifully. but for that week leading up to the meet, i found myself at the center of an odd little experiment. my coach knew exactly what was going to happen, how the fluid would affect me, but i was in awe of the whole thing.

there was no attachment – this number didn’t mean anything. how could it, if it was so fickle as to be swayed so drastically simply by drinking a lot of water and cutting out pop-tarts for a few days?

i was the same person, the same athlete, the same perpetually awkward panda on friday, at 55.3kg, as i was 18 hours later on saturday morning at 58.5kg. the number didn’t change anything. because, as i’ve made clear, that number means nada.

i’m up to my eyeballs in a sport that i love. a sport that suits me, that is challenging and scary and exhilarating. a sport that celebrates strength and size, where somebody telling you that you have huge quads (which happened to me yesterday) is a day-making compliment.

i also happen to be competing in a sport with weight classes. and my first experience with “making weight” finally taught me what three dozen doctors and therapists spent a decade trying to get through my head: weight. is. bullshit.


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apologies and odds & ends.

i’ve been a total turd and haven’t replied to posts, have hardly read posts, and generally have been playing ostrich the past few days.

my grandmother isn’t well and it breaks my heart. my flight to FL leaves tonight at eight, and i’m praying that everything goes okay so that i can just get down there and spend the next five days with her. next to my mom, she’s the most important woman in my life; after my mom died, she became that much more important to me. more on all of this later…

i DLed with my coach (that sounds weird – i have a coach?!) on monday. a lot of form diagnostics. we narrowed my stance, and talked about how my upper back is my weak link (which i kind of suspected since i have trouble locking out my heavy singles). pulled up to 215# – ten pounds shy of my max, but it came up well and locked out cleanly, if a little slow – and then did some deficit triples and a widowmaker (20-rep set) at 95#, touch-and-go style. added in some face pulls for upper back work, and glute-ham raises because my hamstrings are lamesauce.

also did DL doubles at 185# after my 215#, and since i was wearing shorts i had to chalk up my thighs because the bar was sticking to my sweat. TMI?

did rack pulls up to singles at 205# today and they felt really good. also got to do DB snatches – i love DB snatches!

i haven’t even pulled my suitcase out of the closet yet. my ride is coming in 3.5 hours.

i have also come to the conclusion that gatorade G2 tastes way better than powerade zero. in case you were curious.

three posts in draft-form right now. i swear i’ll get there, guys.

 

 


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a tale of two loyalties (and why i can’t choose just yet).

this has been brewing for about a week and it’s been driving me crazy to not write about it – but i wanted to make sure it was a go before i got all excited and things.

if you’ve been here for a while, you know that since my surgery i’ve gotten more and more into strength training and lifting. since, ya know, i couldn’t run. (or walk.) and now that running has been safely integrated back into my life for the past six months, i’ve had a really hard time reconciling two very different training styles and goals.

running has been incredibly important to me, especially since my mom died. it’s how i work through sadness, grief, confusion, general malaise…it has, in many ways, been a lifesaver.

lifting, on the other hand, has been this crazy fun journey. every morning i feel like i’m going to the playground – what can i add to my plan? can i go up in weight or reps? how am i going to get stronger today?

i started out barely able to bench an open bar; yesterday i pressed three singles at 105# comfortably. in november or so i deadlifted for the first time, at 65# – the bar and a 10# bumper plate on each side; last week i pulled 225#, albeit with the ugliest lockout in the world. i love conquering new things, new weights; i love seeing the growth and feeling strong and powerful.

one of my favorite parts of running is the actual training leading up to – my ultimate favorite – race day. i love getting to the start line and knowing that, at the end of the day, you’re competing with nobody but yourself and your PRs. and i love racing – the adrenaline, the high, the accomplishment, even the shitty finish line photos.

and i’ve started thinking – what about lifting? how freaking awesome would i be to get out there and compete in a powerlifting competition?

answer: pretty damn awesome, i’m sure. problem? (a) i have no clue if i’m doing this shit correctly; (b) my squat, ever since surgery, is beyond abyssmal; and (c) i wouldn’t have the first idea about how to go about actually competing.

which led me to my friend google. which led me to this guy. which led to a verbose and awkward email on my part, followed by a meet-and-greet this past monday. we talked all about my athletic history, my surgery, my goals. i told him i want to compete; we agreed to meet today.

he asked what i was concerned about; i answered that 156% that would be my squat. so of course, today we would squat.

in case i haven’t bitched about it sufficiently, my squat is a measly 130#. like, that’s my 1RM. poop on a stick. justin told me we would triple that today. i laughed.

i tripled 135# three times.

we worked out two kinks right away – bar placement (moved it down a smidge) and driving my knees out. i always thought i did, but when he told me to exaggerate it, 115# flew up like air. and then…135# happened.

we did a ton of hamstring and glute work and i’m not going to be able to walk tomorrow. but i couldn’t care less because i am THAT excited over my squats.

there’s a powerlifting meet in lexington on october 12th. and i want in. badly.

i love running, and i love racing…but i want to try this, i feel almost as though i need to. it’s not going to be cheap, by any means – running is about the cheapest damn sport you can find. powerlifting, not so much. but i’m frugal to a fault and have a nice nest egg built up. i’m okay with chipping into it a bit, and picking up as many extra classes as possible at the gym this summer.

i don’t know quite how to articulate it, but this is something that i want so badly to try out. maybe i’ll hate it and never want to do another one, in which case – it was an experience, and no harm no foul.

but maybe – and i feel like this is much more likely – maybe i’ll love it.

you can’t pass up an opportunity to try something you might love.