It has been ten weeks since I began my Olympic Weightlifting journey. What a journey it was. I would first like to thank Val Craft of Be Personal Training for taking the time to design my program, and for giving me constructive feedback in relation to both my Snatch as well as my Clean and Jerk technique. I still have some work to do with these lifts in relation to keeping the bar moving as quickly as possible and not losing momentum, however even the best lifters make mistakes, so I am not going to overthink things. As far as strength gains are concerned, I averaged a five to ten-kilogram increase in weight lifted in my working sets. I have also lost one kilogram in weight. At the start of my journey I weighed 87.5kg, I now weigh 86.5kg. Some of this will be water weight, some of it will be bodyfat. As the volume of leg work for Olympic Weightlifting is so high, in that every training day is a leg day I reduced the amount of sprinting I was doing and focussing more on long walks outside, intervals on the Ski-erg and using the Assault bike. I also increased the amount of time I spent stretching both before and after my training sessions to make sure I was in the best possible condition to perform the training sessions.
It is the end of my ten- week program, however it is not the end of my Olympic Weightlifting journey. I will be modifying my previous training style to incorporate more Olympic lifting and every third week I will be returning to the Olympic Weightlifting program. This will not only ensure that I keep on progressing, it will also stop me from getting bored. Hopefully in a years time I will be good enough to test myself in a competition.
On Friday I achieved one of my goals for 2019 when I completed 20 minutes straight on the Assault bike. On Tuesday I managed 15 minutes without stopping for the first time and decided that the next time I get on the Assault bike I would go for the 20- minute target. This might not sound like very long, especially when I work as a Fitness Instructor, however I base my cardio around speed training, 200- meter sprints on the treadmill, 100- meter sprints outside, one- minute rounds on the boxing bag etc. The Assault bike also only has one gear and the resistance comes from the amount of air being forced through the fan meaning the faster you push the more wind resistance you generate.
I am getting closer to achieving my strength goals as well. We are now nearing the end of April and I have until the end of September to achieve all of them.
I spent last weekend visiting my older sister in Barcelona. Two years ago, she made the decision to move and spent a year planning, selling what she didn’t need and having both Spanish and Catalan lessons, to give herself the best possible chance of making a life for herself once she got there. Some of you may be asking what’s the difference between Spanish and Catalan? Catalan refers to Catalonia, which is the region of Spain where Barcelona is located. The people of Catalonia speak a different dialect to other areas of Spain, meaning that some of the words people learn in GCSE Spanish would not be used in Catalonia. My older sister has lived in Barcelona for a year now and has settled in well. She has a well-paid job and a good group of friends around her. Both myself and our Mum were impressed with how well my older sister has settled although we are not surprised. She has always had the ability to make anywhere a home quickly.
Barcelona seems to have an extremely relaxed culture. People walk around for a bit, sit for a bit then eat and drink for a bit. Nobody seemed to be in a rush to get anywhere unlike other cities around the world such as London. During the day we went around the markets and visited a museum in Barcelona. During the evening we went for Pinchos and Tapas.
Now that I have visited Barcelona as an adult and seen how well my older sister has settled in, I feel much more relaxed about her decision to move. She has a habit of landing on her feet, although she does work extremely hard. Good luck in Barcelona Rae for many more years to come.
I am now five weeks into my ten- week Olympic Weightlifting program. When I started, I weighed 87kg, I now weigh 85kg. Although I have lost weight my strength has increased meaning the weight, I have lost is 2kg of fat. If you look at the above videos of me performing the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk, you will see that I am looking leaner then I did five weeks ago. Although they are not perfect in these video’s I have made great improvements in the Snatch. In the Clean and Jerk video, I used my arms a bit too much and didn’t use my hips enough in the Clean or my legs enough in the Jerk. It was my last set of the session, so fatigue did play a factor in that. After both sessions I sent the videos to my strength coach for some feedback and she confirmed what I suspected went wrong with the Clean and Jerk. As always, she gave me tips for how to improve my lifts for next time. Weightlifting can be frustrating sometimes; however, it is important to go back to basics at least once a week to practice your drills for both lifts and nail the technique. If I am going to get good enough to enter a contest next year it is vital for me to perfect the techniques now so that I don’t make any mistakes on the day of the event.
In video 1 I lifted 40kg for 3 reps in the Snatch and in video 2 I lifted 75kg for 1 rep in the Clean and Jerk. I still have some work to do in relation to technique, however by week ten I should have fixed them.
This is not mine but thought it was worth sharing.
An often-overlooked aspect of exercise is the importance of stretching. Stretching has many benefits which include:
1. Reduced risk of joint injuries, muscle strain and back issues.
2. Reduced post exercise soreness.
3. Quicker recovery from the workout.
4. Increased coordination and range of motion.
5. Improved gains in strength through increased range of motion.
6. Improved body awareness.
7. Increased physical and mental relaxation.
8. Increased mobility.
The tension in a muscle and tendons is detected by receptors known as Muscle Spindles. These spindles monitor changes in the length of the muscle and rate of change length. An important job of these spindles is to protect the muscle from injury. If this change happens too quickly or the muscle stretches too far, and a reflex contraction is activated to prevent injury. The tendons have receptors known as Golgi Tendon Organs, (GTOs). GTOs detect increases in tension, causing the muscle to relax to prevent injury. If a muscle is extremely tight the GTOs need to be stimulated as opposed to the muscle spindles. Slow static stretching following an aerobic warm up is the safest way to achieve this.
Strength training is enhanced when an individual incorporates a stretching program into their training. In order to fully stimulate a muscle, it is important to work the muscle through a full range of motion. If stretching is neglected the muscles range of motion is reduced, meaning it will not be able to reach its full potential. Stretching at the end of a workout helps the body to remove lactic acid from the muscle and sends it into the blood stream.
Posture is also improved by stretching. More and more people are working behind a desk, driving for work or spend a large part of their working day bent forward. This can put a great amount of strain on the muscles of the torso. By stretching the chest muscles and the Hamstrings, imbalances in posture can be corrected.
The type of stretching and when it is performed can have a huge impact on exercise performance. I’m sure some of you reading this remember PE lessons in school when static stretching was performed at the start and end of the lesson. In my own personal experience, I have found that static stretching at the end of my session has produced the best results. This is because the muscles being stretched are at their warmest, therefor they can be stretched further, and the stretch can be held for longer. As far as pre-workout stretching, I have found that dynamic stretching following a five to ten-minute aerobic warmup have produced the best results. These can be walking lunges or bodyweight squats, bear-crawls or the inchworm for a lower-body workout. Dynamic stretching for an upper-body workout can include neck rotations, shoulder circles and hip rotations. I also attend a weekly Yoga class to help me relax and to learn new stretching techniques.
Protein intake seems to be one of the most misunderstood areas of nutrition to the general public. Pick up any bodybuilding magazine and you will find at least one article saying you need to take in 2 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight. I have lost count of how many adverts I have seen promoting high protein meal replacement drinks.
The first thing people need to understand is that the bodybuilding magazines and the det companies such as Slim Fast are not really interested in your health. Their job is to sell you their products. Pick up any bodybuilding or fitness magazine and you will find an advert for a protein supplement on every other page. The important word in the last sentence is supplement. The purpose is not to replace real food, the purpose of them is to add an extra boost after an intense workout to kickstart the recovery process. Simply drinking a protein drink will not help you build a muscular body if the rest of your nutrition intake is bad and you fail to exercise with enough intensity to cause the body to grow bigger stronger muscles.
How much protein do we really need?
The claim of the bodybuilding magazines that you should take in 2 grams of protein for each pound of bodyweight is not true. An inactive individual only requires 0.75 grams of protein for each kilogram of body weight, which they could easily get from a balanced diet. An athlete on the other hand would require more. Endurance athletes would need to average 1.2 to 1.4 grams of protein for each kilogram of bodyweight. Strength athletes such as Olympic weightlifters or body builders would need 1.4 grams to 1.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of bodyweight. McMaster University in Ontario Canada performed a study on strength athletes. Half of the group took in 1.4 grams of protein for each kilogram of bodyweight and the second half took in 2.3 grams of protein for each kilogram. The study found no significant difference in the amount of muscle mass built by the group taking in the higher amount of protein. Once your body has taken in its optimal amount of protein needed for your training goals, any extra protein will not be used for muscle building.
I currently weigh 87kg and I am currently taking part in a ten- week Olympic weightlifting programme. That means I need to take between 1.4 to 1.8 grams of protein for each kilogram of bodyweight. On my rest days I would need to take in 122 grams of protein. 1.4 x 87= 121.8. On my training days I would need to take in 157 grams of protein. 1.8 x87= 156.6. I do use protein drinks as part of my routine. I have one in the morning after a workout and I have a second in the evening.
Once you know how much protein you need the next stage is to work out how to ensure you get it. The easiest way to do this is to simply increase the amount of food you take in each day. Instead of simply making your breakfast, lunch and dinner bigger a more effective strategy would be to add extra meals which most of already do through snacking. Instead of snacking on a bag of crisps or a bar of chocolate have a bag of mixed nuts or some natural yoghurt. A 125-gram tin of tuna has 25 grams of protein, a 112-gram carton of cottage cheese has 15 grams of protein. If you follow a vegan diet 50 grams of Cashew nuts contain 10 grams of protein, 120 grams of kidney beans contains 10 grams of protein.
The Complete Guide to Sports Nutrition by Anita Bean
The Complete Guide to Strength Training by Anita Bean
World Health Organisation, http://www.who.int
Department of Health and Social Care, https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-of-health-and-social-care