Olympic Weightlifting Program Update

 

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.

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Stretching

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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

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.

Useful Sources:
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

Arnold Schwarzenegger

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One of my biggest influences in life has been Arnold Schwarzenegger. To most people he is an actor and former Governor of California. Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most successful people of the 20th and 21st centuries. Born in Austria in 1947, Arnold grew up with his family believing he was destined for greatness. He was influenced by Steve Reeves and Reg Park, who were the most famous Bodybuilders of their era, both of who went on to star as Hercules. Arnold began bodybuilding in the 1960’s and at aged 18 he won the 1965 Junior Mr Europe after going AWOL from the Austrian Army. During this time, he was serving his National Service and could not get the time off to compete in the show, however Arnold being Arnold he decided he was going to compete anyway.
In 1968 Arnold Schwarzenegger moved to California and began training at the original Golds Gym. At that time Golds was a small gym by the beach. Now it is one of the biggest franchises in the world. During this time Arnold was weight training for five hours a day, six days a week, going to University, working on construction sites and having acting lessons. Arnold wanted to follow in the footsteps of his Idol Reg Park who like Arnold used his success in bodybuilding to become an actor.
Below you will find Arnold Schwarzenegger’s competitive history:
1965 Junior Mr Europe, Germany 1st
1966 Best Built Man in Europe, Germany 1st
1966 Mr Europe, Germany 1st
1966 International Powerlifting Competition, Germany 1st
1966 NABBA Mr Universe, Amateur, London 2nd Winner Chet Yorton
1967 NABBA Mr Universe, Amateur, London 1st
1968 NABBA Mr Universe, Professional, London 1st
1968 German Powerlifting Championship, Germany 1st
1968 IFBB Mr International, Mexico 1st
1968 IFBB Mr Universe, Florida 2nd Winner Frank Zane
1969 IFBB Mr Universe, Amateur, New York 1st
1969 NABBA Mr Universe, Professional, London 1st
1969 IFBB Mr Olympia, New York 2nd Winner Sergio Oliva
1970 NABBA Mr Universe, Professional, London 1st defeated his idol Reg Park
1970 AAU Mr World, Columbus Ohio 1st first win over Sergio Oliva
1970 IFBB Mr Olympia, New York 1st
1971 IFBB Mr Olympia, Paris 1st
1972 IFBB Mr Olympia, Essen Germany 1st
1973 IFBB Mr Olympia, New York 1st
1974 IFBB Mr Olympia, New York 1st
1975 IFBB Mr Olympia, Pretoria South Africa 1st Pumping Iron was filmed
1980 IFBB Mr Olympia, Sydney Australia 1st

Arnold Schwarzenegger retired from competitive bodybuilding for the first time in 1975 after his sixth Mr Olympia win and filming of Pumping Iron was completed. By this time, he had won all the competitions in the IFBB at the time and had won them more times then anybody else. He had already made some movies such as Hercules in New York, which was made in 1970. The film was a disaster; however, Arnold would persist and in 1982 came his first hit movie, Conan the Barbarian.
His next big hit was in 1984 where he starred in the role, he is most famous for, Terminator. What I find the most interesting about this is that according to Arnold his agent wanted him to audition for Kyle Rhys. The original concept for the Terminator was an infiltration unit who would blend in to the crowd, make the hit then disappear back into the crowd. This was something a six foot two- inch tall man weighing eighteen stone/ 245 pounds would not be able to do. The more of the script he read, the more Arnold felt like the Terminator would be a better role for him. Director James Cameron has said in interviews that the story stayed the same, it was just the visual presence of the Terminator changed. As we all know, Terminator was a huge success, in 1992 Terminator 2 Judgement Day was released and, in this film, Arnold was still the Terminator, his role in the film changed from the villain to the protector. Arnold would go on to make many more movies, some flopped, however most were successful and made him the highest paid actor in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
In 2003 Arnold ran for Governor of California. Just like with his bodybuilding career he felt that he had done everything there was to do in the movies and he wanted a new challenge. Arnold was successful and won two terms as Governor of California.

Throughout his bodybuilding and acting careers Arnold Schwarzenegger new that people were exploiting him for their own personal gain, however he also used them to help him achieve all his goals in life. I like to think of him as the Mohamed Ali of bodybuilding. He new how good he was, he new that there were others who were genetically better then him, however it was his incredible drive for success that made him the success he was. Like Mohamed Ali he was a natural born salesman, using his charisma to not just promote his sport but his own brand, e.g. himself.

What I admire most about Arnold Schwarzenegger is not his bodybuilding or acting careers, it is his ability to see the bigger picture and to know when it is time to move on. His drive and determination are qualities I try my best to emulate. Unlike Arnold I am a natural introvert, however this does not stop me from doing everything I can to achieve my own goals in life. Always remember that only one person can be the best at something, this however should not stop you from doing your best.

Olympic Weightlifting Week One

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I have just completed week one of my new Olympic Weightlifting programme. Week one is where I test my 3 Rep Max for both Olympic lifts as well as for all Squat variations, Standing Military Press and Deadlifts. From that Val worked out the weights for me to use in the programme and when I get to week ten I will re-test my 3 Rep Max. By that time there should be an improvement. I currently have a 3 Rep Max of 75kg on the Clean and Jerk. If I can increase that to 80kg I will be happy on track to my September 31st target of 85kg for 2 Reps. That might not seem like a big increase in weight for a six- month period, however the Olympic lifts are very technical and large increases in weights lifted takes time. Next week the programme begins properly, with all the assistance exercises I will be using to help with the two main lifts. Above you will see a picture of how I currently look. It is March 8th, I currently weigh 87kg with a 32- inch waist. I am also six feet tall. I will post a blog with a picture of how I look in nine weeks- time. This will be May 10th and will also be the end of week ten. It will include an updated picture and stats. I look forward to updating you all with my progress and to see how good I can get at Olympic Weightlifting this year.

2019 Update

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So far it looks like I am on track to meet my 2019 strength goals. I now have a 1 rep max on the Deadlift of 140kg, (no straps). My goal by 31/09/19 is a 2-rep max Deadlift of 150kg. One of my goals has changed though. Instead of becoming strong enough to enter a Powerlifting competition, it is now to get good enough at Olympic Weightlifting to enter an Olympic Weightlifting competition in 2020. Some of you may be asking what is the difference? In Power Lifting you have three lifts. Squats, Bench Press and Deadlifts. You have three attempts to lift your 1 rep max in each lift. Your total is the maximum lifted for all three added together. In Olympic Weightlifting you have the Snatch and the Clean and Jerk. Once again you have three attempts to lift your maximum weight for both lifts and the total for both is added together.
In order to achieve my new goal, I will be beginning a ten- week Olympic Weightlifting programme tomorrow. One of the Personal Trainers at the gym I train at is a qualified Olympic Weightlifting coach and she has designed a programme for me. Some of you reading this might wonder why I would pay for a fitness programme when I am a qualified Fitness Instructor with nearly fourteen years’ experience? The simple answer is that no matter how good you are or think you are, there is always more to learn. Also, Olympic Weightlifting is a specialised sport, which requires specialist qualifications, that I do not have. As a Fitness Professional I see it as my responsibility to learn as much as I can about all aspects of health and fitness. This not only helps me to keep on progressing but also allows me to help all the members I work with. Some areas I have been taught through working with members with specific conditions, such as Stroke or MS. No qualification can truly prepare you for the unique requirements each member has. You could have two different members recovering from a Stroke with completely different needs, and only by working with them will you learn how to help them.

Once I feel confident enough with my Olympic Weightlifting ability, especially the Snatch I will begin looking for competitions to enter in 2020. Then I will work a lot closer with Val and work out realistic weights to attempt to lift. Just like when I was Sprinting with target race times, in any Olympic Weightlifting competition I enter my aim will be to achieve certain weights and if I win my weight class that will be a bonus.