*lifts her pathetically sore arms to commence typing….ouch*
I started weightlifting when I was about 13 years old. I was at a plateau in terms of my throwing abilities and needed some additional training to help it along. My old friend and teammates mother had kept in touch with my town’s throwing coach from the track club who started up his own “athletic” group. Which was a mixture between athletics and weightlifting, varied in size from 2-6 members over it’s 5 year life span. Once I started it was go go go! I ended up competing once or twice at the junior national level, wasn’t my thing though so it never bothered me that I placed 2nd/3rd place at whatever competition I was in. Plus, there were other girls who loved the sport more than I did, so when they performed well it was this contagious excitement energy. Of course they had to wait until the end for celebrations since the lifting wasn’t finished yet.
It’s definitely a different experience travelling for a each sport ; different people, personality, mentality…mainly a heck of a lot more crazy testosterone energy. While there were a couple guys I trained with, I never looked at them in a crush like manner and I grew up in a female dominated household so these kind of encounters with boys were totally off my equilibrium. Plus! I was 16, while most girls my age had boys on the mind I was more concerned about my sport and making sure I kept that up so I would look appealing for some american school to recruit me for their program.
Back to the purpose of this post, I’ve been lifting weights for ages. I think I can comfortably say I’ve got about a decade of experience under my belt. The thing I find interesting about athletics in general is the strive for perfection us athletes have. We’ll never get it, because we generally always view ourselves as “work in progress,” so there isn’t any perfection unless your Nadia at the Montreal Olympics. High five if you got my reference! *smack*
Again, I’ve slipped off. STOP IT EMMA!
Since I’ve returned to school I’ve been slacking on the gym effort more than I should. I get on the treadmill or go on walks at various places in town, but proper weightlifting was benched for a few months. Came back to it this past week, and I’m generally good with taking it easy starting back up. My body has the memory of my peak performance, but the muscles went on vacation so I have to start off on the little weights. Unfortunately to get back in the swing of things I’ve gotten my fellow gym fanatic Nikki* to help get me started and motivated. She on the other hand is like the energizing bunny it’s insane. Works 8-12 at a logging mill 30 minutes away from the school, and workouts for an couple hour, than goes to school from 2-9 and then either hits the gym again or goes swimming… she does this 5 days a week! Definitely makes me feel like I’m not moving enough.
This past week we decided it was time to hit the weights, since the previous week we did circuit training to get the short burst muscles going and just getting the blood pumping through the veins. For re-introductory I did push-press, back squat, leg press, and that machine you pull down the bar for back and shoulder strengthening. I’m not the biggest fan of all those big weight machines. I get they’re good for isolation work, but Olympic weightlifting has your body doing explosive movements that require the lifter to be 100% in control of their body. A part of having control of your body is being able to read the signs it’d giving you. All that being said, these are a few tricks/tips I try to remind myself when getting back into the swing of things for lifting.
1. Long warm ups/downs
I usually spend as much time warming up and cooling down as the whole workout, so if I want to workout for a solid hour than collectively my cool downs and warm ups would total an hour as well. I’m not sure if that sounds extreme time wise because that’s my normal and the reward is a quicker recovery time. Walking on the treadmill before or after does count because I can’t see how effective a jog on the treadmill can help develop endurance and strength when compared to an actual jog.
2. Always start low
I see no shame in starting at a significantly lower weight from what your last proper workout (before the prolonged break) was. The body is waking up again, and even though it’s been through this whole routine a million times it still needs a few sets to gather their wits (yes, muscles have brains :P). Say if your usual start for push press is 30kg, go down to 20kg and have an additional set. Squats starting at 70kg? try 60kg instead.
3. Know when to say stop
I know I’ve had these moments many times when working, because your always given a warning of some sort. The inability to complete a rep, the pinch from a muscle, the body shaking from exhaustion mistaken for adrenaline, etc. My weakness is squats, I always keep going even when I feel the quads tightening and then….I go a pull a butt muscle. This is a constant reminder I need to give myself, otherwise my legs more than likely wouldn’t want to hang out with the rest of me.
4. Keep on Drinking
I’m prone to leg/calf cramps in the middle of the night. I was young when I had my first encounter with this experience so I think it shocked both me and my parents when I woke up in the middle of the night screaming in pain. The crux of it all is that the best way to make the cramp is by flexing!! AHH, hate it!! Why the cramps? I know there are many ideas of why they occur, but the one I follow is because the body is dehydrated and the muscles go into a spasm from improper muscle contractions that were caused by dehydration to begin with. Not enough fluids and energy in the body will have it revolt. Drinking as much water as possible is my method, there’s always a new suggested amount of daily water consumption but I just make sure I have a water bottle on stand by at all times of the day.. even in bed, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night thirsty so I’ll search in my bed as I usually have a few lying around.
Just skip to the 50 second mark of the video and it kinda gives you a visual of what I’m talking about.
I wanted to add a clip of my weightlifting, but that’s only possible with the premium blog setting, and I’m only on basic. So the best “action” clip I can provide is a highlight reel of us “wahine warriors” from an old conference competition, I’m the first thrower but watch the whole video if you like. I was top finisher for my team in the event, 3rd overall.
Yes, I grunt.